Controversy over coffee and tea
New Harbour Grace business on its way to getting approval from town
Business was booming at the Admiral’s Café and Gift Store on the southside of Harbour Grace on opening day, May 28. There were line-ups for coffee and tea, and muffins were going like the proverbial hotcakes, despite little advertising.
Not bad for an operation that, according to the Town of Harbour Grace, had opened its doors without a proper business permit from council.
After learning the café had opened without its approval, council voted unanimously at its May 30 regular meeting to write Pauline Yetman, the café operator, ordering her to cease operations.
The café and gift shop is operating inside a ship-shaped structure on the grounds of the Admiral’s Marina, which is operated by the Harbour Authority of Harbour Grace.
First application denied
When Yetman first applied for a com- mercial occupancy permit to operate the business in March, council denied the application on the grounds that the area where the marina is located is zoned “open space/ recreation.” Commercial operations are not considered a permitted use in that zone.
Town clerk/administrator Lester Forward explained at the time if the harbour authority wished to operate a food outlet such as a café to supplement its operation, that would be considered an “accessory use (to a facility that already exists).” However, referring to Yetman’s application, the town administrator explained, “this is a separate business; a private enterprise.”
Last week, Forward further explained: “Pauline Yetman couldn’t get a permit because it could not be considered as an accessory use to a facility she doesn’t own, but a standalone commercial operation in an area zoned open space/recreation.”
Mayor Don Coombs said a private enterprise doesn’t qualify under the town’s zoning regulations outlined in the new town plan.
The harbour authority has jurisdiction over the marina, but council contends it does not have the authority to issue a permit to operate a private business on its property — a right which rests solely with council under the Municipalities Act.
While the operator does have a lease agreement with the harbour authority, as far as the town is concerned, that does not constitute a permit to operate a private business. “ She’s subleased property from the harbour authority, but that arrangement doesn’t concern us — it is not a permit to operate,” Mayor Coombs said last week.
When The Compass visited the café on the morning of June 1, Yetman had not received any letter from the town and said she was unaware the issue had come up at the council meeting.
By selling locally produced crafts and souvenirs of Harbour Grace, Yetman said
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