The City Council on Tuesday night voted 6-2 to deny a request by Matt Hullander that would have allowed "a small restaurant" at his new retail center near his Hullco firm on East Brainerd Road at Panorama Drive.
Some neighbors said Mr. Hullander, at the time the center was approved in a close vote on March 28, 2012, said there would not be a restaurant involved.
Mr. Hullander told the council, "I'm not breaking any promise." He said he had agreed not to have a large restaurant. "I never said no coffee shop or no sandwich shop."
Steve Clowdis told the council, "He told us from the start no restaurant. Now he wants to back down from it. He sold us a bill of goods when we had a meeting with him."
Both sides presented petitions. Councilman Moses Freeman said many signing the Hullander petition lived away from that neighborhood. Mr. Hullander said a number were employees of nearby businesses.
B.D. Kennedy, who has moved his Kennedy Jewelers into the complex, said, "We would love to have a restaurant in the building." He said that would be very convenient rather than his 12 employees having to get out and find a place to eat.
There were also questions about a craft beer store at the site. Mr. Hullander said beer is not consumed at the shop and is approved under his zoning.
The motion was to lift the first of 17 conditions on the earlier rezoning. It does not allow restaurants and says businesses would operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. A restaurant could be open until 11 p.m. A nearby neighbor said employees would likely hang around for hours after closing.
Mr. Hullander said the complex is already half full. He said a dozen or more small restaurants had expressed an interest in locating at the site. He said he has letters of intent from nine.
He said, "I want a Lupi's on East Brainerd Road. That's all I want."
Mr. Hullander said the issue is "basically about me." He said his father, Trustee Bill Hullander, has no involvement in the project.
Councilwoman Carol Berz said, "There were promises made, and I'm going to support my constituents."
Votes of support came from Ken Smith and Jerry Mitchell.