Gateway: News

Councilwoman Woock proposes no new restaurants in Millville

A photo sent by a resident to Gig Harbor Councilwoman Jeni Woock as a part of a complaint about bright lights from restaurants in the historic Millville District. The district has been a part of a controversy regarding the future of restaurants in the zoned area.
A photo sent by a resident to Gig Harbor Councilwoman Jeni Woock as a part of a complaint about bright lights from restaurants in the historic Millville District. The district has been a part of a controversy regarding the future of restaurants in the zoned area. Courtesy

Another chapter in the city’s Millville controversy is about to begin since councilwoman Jeni Woock plans to present her idea to restrict restaurants in the Waterfront Millville zoning district of Gig Harbor.

Woock is expected to bring a text amendment to the council for consideration during the May 14 council meeting that would restrict any future restaurants from opening in the Millville district, as a way to appease residents who believe the district is facing issues of parking and noise. The Waterfront Millville Zoning District begins at the corner of Rosedale Street and Harborview Drive and heads west past Defiance Lane and ends just before Stinson Avenue, according to Gig Harbor Planning Director Jennifer Kester.

Woock said her proposal would not affect any current restaurants open in Millville, such as Brix 25 or Millville Pizza, as their closing times are grandfathered in from previous ordinances.

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Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Warren Zimmerman is opposed to this amendment, arguing restaurants in the area have not had a significant impact to the downtown.

“She seems to be alarmed at the fact that there are other potential places that could house a restaurant,” Zimmerman said. “Whether or not that is likely to happen, no one knows, but she is concerned that it is a possibility and she is very opposed to having any additional (restaurants).”

Zimmerman said the chamber has reached out to residents regarding concerns with the downtown. He said many are worried about parking but overall the community seems to want more downtown.

“I think the areas where we’ve seen development in Millville have not had significant impact,” he said. “There are a few people who are disgruntled … but overall the general populous of Gig Harbor is in favor of development along the waterfront. The city has worked very diligently to make sure they have addressed the issue of traffic, noise, odors and parking.”

Woock said she is concerned about potential development, despite the city’s work to ease traffic issues, and hopes the council will consider her proposal.

“Today there are four and soon-to-be five restaurants in Waterfront Millville with no hard closing hours at all,” Woock said. “If new regulations are not put in place there could be another four-plus restaurants for a total of nine-plus restaurants between Skansie Park and Suzanne’s. There will never be any closing hours. This would alter this historic character forever.”

0510 WATERFRONT MILLVILLE
A map showing the exact location of Gig Harbor’s Waterfront Millville zoning district. Councilwoman Jeni Woock is proposing to halt any future restaurants from opening in the district to prevent overgrowth and protect homeowner’s rights. Gig Harbor Planning Director Jennifer Kester Courtesy

Woock clarified there were no applications at this time submitted to the city for future restaurants in the area, but said any restaurants that choose to open in current buildings would not have to provide additional parking. She said there are up to nine buildings and empty spaces in the district that could be potential spaces for restaurants, according to the current city ordinances and zoning.

Recently, Woock has received emails from a Millville resident citing “bright lights” from the patio of Brix 25 as the reason to halt any future restaurants.

“The neighbors who purchased their forever homes should have never had their property rights ignored. Restaurants do not belong in a residential neighborhood and these citizens should not have to purchase blackout curtains to enjoy their family time,” Woock said in an email. “What do I say to citizens when the lights come shining through their windows at night. Something is terribly wrong for our community.”

According to records from the Gig Harbor Police Department, there have been only two disturbance calls in reference to Millville in the past three years. Neither calls were related to any restaurants in the Millville area.

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The text amendment will be proposed for consideration to the council but no action to implement or deny the amendment will be made at May 14 meeting. The public can comment on the amendment during the public comment portion of the agenda.

Danielle Chastaine: 253-358-4155, @gateway_danie
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