Preliminary plans for tavern OK'd

March 05, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

Preliminary plans for tavern OK'd

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Stephen and Elizabeth Keefe are willing to do whatever it takes to open a tavern on the lower floor of their 1870s home - install lighting, create handicapped-accessible bathrooms and create more parking spaces than required by city codes.

After a 21/2-hour discussion on their plans Wednesday night, the Martinsburg City Planning Commission approved their preliminary site plans, despite objections from a handful of the couple's neighbors.

The Historic Raleigh Street Tavern at the Lindens is the name Elizabeth Keefe wants for the proposed tavern at 111 S. Raleigh St., the home she shares with her husband and two children.


She envisions a place where people can have drinks and a light dinner after work, perhaps catching up on the news with CNN or relaxing in the home's library, not the rowdy bar her neighbors fear, she said.

"This is my home and I have two children upstairs sleeping," Keefe said, explaining why the business would not be a nuisance to the community.

The Keefes don't expect to seat more than 50 people and want to employee only four.

City codes require one parking space per five customers and one space per every two employees. Given the numbers they expect, the Keefes would only need 12 parking spaces, but are willing to provide up to 18.

The Keefes had plans to open an antique shop in part of the home while living in the other portion, but after the antique market no longer seemed profitable, they switched gears and decided on a bed and breakfast.

After realizing the rooms need more renovation than they originally thought, they changed their minds, focusing on the idea of a tavern.

While some neighbors support the idea, including the former owner of the home, others are concerned about noise, traffic and parking on the alley, which is already used as an entrance to the Boomtown Inn's parking lot.

"I'm not against small business ... but I don't think a tavern in our community, a community I live in, is needed," said Kimber White, co-owner of the Boomtown Inn, which doesn't serve alcohol.

Richard Grimes, of 519 W. Burke St., said if people want a place to relax, they should go to their back yard.

That's where he and his wife go, and he's fearful the lights installed near the house will reflect harshly in his yard.

The commission approved the Keefes' plan, as long as they install lighting, knock down a wall to make room for parking and follow requirements and guidelines set by the fire marshal, Martinsburg City Police, the Berkeley County Health Department and building inspectors.

The Keefes' engineer will submit a second plan after the requirements are met, which must be approved by the city engineer.

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