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220 Merrill passes land use compliance review

By Grace Lovins

220 Merrill Restaurant will be keeping its special land use permit – and therefore its liquor license – after appearing before the Birmingham City Commission on Monday, July 25, for a requested compliance review.

The city commission had approved a special land use permit for 220 Merrill at their meeting on May 9, with three stipulations set in place: all privately owned obstructions such as existing planter boxes and existing hanging planters proposed on the new fence on the east side of the existing patio had to be removed or relocated to private property; city standard tree grates must be installed over the two tree boxes along the adjacent right-of-way; and the applicant must appear before the commission again in July to review for compliance.

Planning director Nick Dupuis stated that the stipulations on the special land use permit had been fulfilled over the course of the past few months. He did mention that he, along with various city departments, had visited the location and observed items that needed to be fixed, such as the location of portable signs, placement of a fire extinguisher on the outdoor patio, and fixing the overhang of umbrellas, which were all changes made to comply with city regulations.

Dupuis additionally noted that, while at the time of writing his report for the commission the tree grates had not yet been installed, he visited the restaurant the day of the commission meeting and the tree grates were in place, satisfying city standards and the stipulations surrounding the special land use permit.

All establishments with liquor licenses must comply with special land use permits to maintain their liquor licenses.

Assistant city manager Jana Ecker added to Dupuis’ comments stating that the city has had repeated complaints about the restaurant in the past, so they will continue to keep an eye out for any issues.

Zaid Elia, owner of 220 Merrill, expressed his gratitude for the commission’s willingness to approve the special land use permit and trusting that the necessary changes be implemented to comply with city regulations.

“I think as a team we’ve heard what everyone is saying and as a group, we listen and we learn and that’s how we make a community better. We’ve certainly listened and we will, have and will continue to improve our properties and 220 is obviously an important landmark in the city and we appreciate the belief and the confidence in us and faith to do these things,” Elia said.

Mayor Therese Longe recused herself from comments and voting, claiming her husband’s business relations with the owner of the property. As mayor pro-tem Pierre Boutros was absent from the meeting, commissioner Elaine McLain served as the acting mayor pro-tem.

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