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Judge puts kibosh on pub plans

Rub-a-dub-dub, Harbour pub gets a drub in Superior Court.

The beer will still flow, there just won’t be any additional taps.

After two years spent battling neighbors for the right to expand, Harbour Public House owners had hoped a judge would finally let them move ahead with their vision. But the pub appears to have been drubbed in court.

Kitsap Superior Court Judge M. Karlynn Haberly ruled against a proposed expansion by the Parfitt Way pub in a decision handed down this week.

Haberly found that increased traffic and noise would violate a 1989 agreement between the pub and the Harbourside Owners Association, a neighboring condominium.

Dick Daniel, president of the owners association, praised the ruling.

“It took two years,” he said. “But we were finally able to get the owners to understand that they made an agreement and they must honor it. The court validated that.”

Pub owners Jeff and Jocelyn Waite want to build an adjoining, adults-only bar east of the existing building, and turn the current establishment into a family dining eatery allowing patrons under age 21.

Neighbors at the Harbourside filed suit last spring, fearing the expansion would exacerbate noise problems and an already tenuous parking situation. The judge agreed.

“These new impacts provide a well-grounded fear of immediate invasion of the Homeowners Association’s rights of quiet enjoyment based on the covenants that were intended for their protection,” Haberly said.

“If constructed, it would materially vary from the master plan by requiring off-site parking to be associated with a use not contemplated or included in the master plan.”

The four-day trial concluded on May 26. Haberly will issue a final decision sometime after June 30.

In the meantime, the court will hear the finding of facts and conclusions, in which the basis of the preliminary decision will be clarified legally.

The process helps the losing party determine whether to appeal.

Owner Waite declined to comment this week, but his business later issued a prepared statement.

“The pub owners do not fully understand the rationale underlying Judge Haberly’s oral ruling but predictably disagree strongly with its effect,” the statement said. “They are considering an appeal.”

Bruce Babbit, attorney for the Harbourside owners, said his clients were pleased.

“We’re very happy,” Babbit said. “This was a fairly thorough decision as these cases go.”

The original agreement, around which the entire case was decided, was negotiated by Jocelyn’s father, Jim Evans, who owned the pub at the time.

Plans then called for a two-story, single-family residence with commercial space on the first floor where the proposed pub expansion would sit.

Waite told the Review last month that the new building would be similar to the one proposed in the original agreement.

The expansion would provide pub owners an additional 20 to 70 percent in gross sales, according to Waite’s business plan.

But Haberly said the increased volume of customers and the size of the expansion were not in line with the uses outlined in the original covenants.

“It would increase significant impacts through noise, delivery trucks, foot and auto traffic, and additional patrons, and it would also expand the footprint of the pub by 20 to 31 percent,” Haberly said.

Waite said the expansion was designed to reduce noise from the kitchen’s exhaust system and patrons.

As for parking, he said he was having difficulty working with the city to meet still unclear requirements.

Now, following the court decision, parking and other concerns associated with expanding appear to have been rendered moot, much to the delight of many of the pub’s neighbors.

“We’re sorry it had to come down to this,” Daniel said. “But we’re very pleased.”

The decision does not preclude expansion altogether, but stipulates that any plan must be approved by the Harbourside.

Daniel said his group would listen openly to any future plans.

“They’re still our neighbors and we won’t cut them off,” he said. “The ball is in their court.”

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