2015-11-05 / News

Neighbors gripe about West Ferry restaurant

By Margo Sullivan

The Shack at West Ferry is closed for the season, but some neighbors want ongoing problems with the operation to be resolved before the lunchroom can open next season, the Town Council learned on Monday.

For the past several years, Narragansett Avenue resident Carol Cronin said she has sent emails to various town administrators each spring about the problems. However, the town has not taken action, she said. Recently, she spoke with Town Administrator Andy Nota.

The complainants should make their case in person at a council meeting before the councilors renew licenses, he suggested. However, Cronin did not see the license renewal advertised and said she was unaware about the council’s “procedure.” Moreover, Cronin expected the council to act on all the licenses on Monday. The Shack’s license, however, was not included.

“It got pushed to the next agenda,” Nota said.

(The council may act on The Shack’s renewal at its Nov. 16 meeting. “Unless that gets changed,” Council President Kristine Trocki said.)

Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero said the council should hear the issues when the owners were present. Nonetheless, he said, Cronin could speak.

Trocki said the councilors will be “happy to listen, but we won’t respond.”

Referring to the letters sent by neighbors, Councilor Thomas Tighe told Nota he thought the administrator’s office should be able to resolve the problem. Nota disagreed, saying there might be a zoning violation. Nota told the councilors that neighbors want the business to follow the restrictions originally imposed by the zoning board.

“They don’t want to close down the business,” he said. “They want compliance.”

Cronin said the problems have been ongoing for the past six years. Councilor Mary Meagher, however, said the current owners have been operating Tallulah’s Tacos for only about three years.

In her letter to the council, Cronin said Tallulah’s “has been responsive to specific requests,” but she hoped the council would “focus on some larger concerns.”

Specifically, she indicated, the original conditions said no cooking was allowed at the site. However, the provision has been broken every year. She also said the seating was supposed to be limited to five picnic tables, but there are now 10 tables.

Cronin also inquired about compliance with fire codes and said a fan that “runs 24/7” is another violation of the original conditions.

William and Mary Brennan, also of Narragansett Avenue, sent a letter that echoed Cronin’s concerns.

“We were not being listened to,” Cronin said. “We appreciate the chance to have this discussion.”

“I don’t know if there are violations going on,” Trocki replied, saying she was confident the town, the neighbors and The Shack could resolve the problems.

Nota said the restaurant’s success is also a factor because more people are frequenting West Ferry.

In other business, the council held a public hearing to consider amendments to the traffic ordinance. The changes, which were reviewed by the traffic board and advertised in The Jamestown Press, mean a four-way stop will replace the two-way stop at the intersection of Windsor Street and Columbia Avenue, Police Chief Ed Mello said.

Also, commercial vehicles over 7,000 pounds are no longer allowed on Columbia Avenue “from a point 200 feet south of West Street and continuing the entire length to the southern end.”

Effectively, this change means the trucks delivering to McQuade’s Marketplace can no longer travel through the neighborhoods.

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