Oregon approves permit extension for BJ’s Hideaway

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon City Council on Monday approved an extension of a Special Use Exception (SUE) permit for BJ’s Hideaway Steakhouse LLC at 506 S. Lallendorf Road.
        Council voted 5-2 to approve the extension. Council members Kathleen Pollauf and James Seaman were opposed.
        On Jan. 14, 2019, council, following a public hearing, approved the SUE in an R-2 Medium Density Residential Zoned District to operate a restaurant/tavern at 506 S. Lallendorf Rd. 
        By regulations, the SUE reverts back if not used within a two-year period. Due to unforeseen circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the steakhouse was unable to operate during the allotted time.
        “We believed the state gave us latitude to operate under the last SUE that was approved,” said Mayor Mike Seferian at the council meeting on Monday. But the city’s law director, he added, thought it should be brought up again for a vote “to have complete clarity for this SUE.”
        A public hearing was held on July 20, 2021, by the Oregon Planning Commission, which voted to recommend the extension for the restaurant/tavern with the following conditions:
        •They will not serve past 10 p.m.;
        •The parking lot will be secured with curb stops;
        •The waste receptacle will be located only at the rear of the property;
        • It will operate as a restaurant with a liquor permit as opposed to a bar.
        Seferian said the owner of the steakhouse, B.J. Lawson, of 1324 S. Stadium Rd., met all the conditions.
        Lawson said at the Planning Commission meeting on July 20 that he was almost ready to open the restaurant just before the virus hit. He said they were nearly ready to open now, but were just waiting for sanitizers from Gordon Foods and the installation of new equipment.
Outside patio
        Residents who were opposed to the SUE extension at the Planning Commission meeting last month were particularly unhappy that Lawson had built an outside patio.
        James Gilmore, building and zoning commissioner, said the Board of Zoning Appeals had voted down the variance.
        Seferian said the commission has already issued permits for outdoor patios to The Den, Buffalo Wild Wings, and other establishments, so it would be difficult to deny Lawson. However, he said it would have to be considered separately from the SUE extension that was under consideration before council because it was never brought up previously.
        Lawson was asked at the meeting on Monday whether he would serve alcohol past 10 p.m., since his liquor permit allows him to serve until 2:30 a.m.
        He said he would only serve until 10 p.m.
        “If I could get a 10 p.m. license, I would. All liquor licenses are for 2:30,” he said.
        “Even though he has the 2:30 liquor license, the conditions take precedence,” said Seferian. “Alcohol would cease at 10 p.m. due to the conditions.”
        If Lawson were to sell the establishment, the 10 p.m. condition would remain with the property, said Seferian.
        Seaman expressed concerns about a previous “bikers night” at the establishment.
        “How many police were called when it was still open that last year? I’m just saying. It created a problem. That was a concern at one time. There was a lot of noise,” said Seaman, who voted against the SUE extension.
Concerned neighbors
        Pollauf, who also voted against the extension, told The Press after the meeting that she was opposed because of the concerns of nearby residents.
        “We’ve had the SUE come before us previously. There have been problems with that in the past. The residents there have had issues. I wouldn’t want it next door to me,” she said. “I think we need to be a little more considerate of the neighbors.”
        Although Lawson can’t serve liquor after 10 p.m., per conditions of the Planning Commission, Pollauf said he still had a liquor license that allowed him to serve until 2:30 a.m.
        “When you have a liquor license until 2:30 in the morning, I don’t trust that,” she said.
        She was on the Board of Zoning Appeals when it denied Lawson a variance on the property for the patio.
        “Lawson has stated he still wants the patio, so I just decided I don’t think we should deal with it,” she said.


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