Last week, Leigh Tauss wrote about how Raleigh City Council member Stef Mendell was the only speaker at a Board of Adjustment meeting who voiced concerns about the noise potentially associated with a rooftop dining area atop Scott Crawford’s forthcoming Jolie bistro. Normally, the story pointed out, council members are discouraged from attending meetings of the city’s boards and commissions, but Mendell has a nearby condo that she rents out, so the rules didn’t apply to her. Ultimately, the BOA allowed Crawford’s dining area to go forward, albeit with some conditions, including that he build an eight-foot wall and not have any amplified music. 

“I don’t get people who want to live in a city but can’t deal with city noises,” writes Melanie Maybe

“Those French bistros get pretty rowdy,” adds Scott Dotson

And Elizabeth Wingfield: “Oakwood is full of crotchety old biddies who have nothing better to do than bitch.”

Finally, Marcus A. Hutton: “Apparently the ethics of voting on an issue where there was obviously a huge conflict of interest for her didn’t faze her at all.”

But Louis Stamm, who was at the BOA meeting and praised Crawford, says there’s more to it: “I live two houses behind Crawford and Son and would be one of the first affected by any late evening noise. I am also the resident liaison for the Person Street Partnership and Society for the Preservation of Historic Oakwood. Scott Crawford, Phillip Bernard [of the Person Street Partnership], myself, and other residents spoke and addressed our concerns during Person Street Partnership meetings prior to the February and March BOA meetings. I personally spoke to Eric Hodge via phone sometime in January about the residents’ concerns.

“Prior to the BOA meeting in March, I happened to be sitting across the aisle from Stef Mendell and overheard her speaking to an attorney for Louis Cheery/Scott Crawford about her noise concerns. I introduced myself and told them that I would be speaking for approval of the variance and advised them of the prior conversations and discussions. As an owner, her concerns were legitimate, not unfounded, sincere, and the same as those of the residents who reside in the neighborhood. When we both spoke before the board, our acceptance was based on the conditions that were debated and discussed. City council member Corey Branch was not aware of any neighborhood concerns because all parties had in good faith been transparent and addressed issues and concerns together earlier. I did not bring this up at the BOA as there is a time limit for rebuttal. I mentioned that Scott Crawford had been a good neighbor because of his willingness to work with the residents and be open to discussion. There were several concerns from the residents, all addressed prior to the BOA.”

Matthew Brown, the president of the Society for the Preservation of Historic Oakwood, argues that the outcome worked well for all parties: “Scott Crawford is indeed an excellent neighbor who has worked sincerely to address potential noise issues. Stef Mendell is an excellent city councilor who works hard to help businesses and residences coexist in harmony. Eric Hodge is an excellent city staffer. He received input from several neighbors, including our liaison Louis Stamm, and helped craft a good solution. The screening fence will not be ‘around the rooftop,’ but only on the east side, where residences are just across a driveway from the building. This is an example of the city government working as it should! (Yes, it took a while for Jolie to get its variances, but there were other issues beside potential noise.) Of course Branch never received any complaints. There has been no reason to complain! By way of background, there have been two other venues nearby that were so loud residents could not sleep at night! Scott Crawford and Stef Mendell and Eric Hodge and the nearby neighbors wanted to prevent a recurrence of those situations.” 

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