About 50 Lake Minnetonka residents who live near the Old Log Theatre petitioned the Greenwood City Council to reject the theater's proposal to add the patio Wednesday, and a split council agreed with their concerns in a 3-2 vote.
Lake Minnetonka residents objected to the proposal for what would have been Greenwood's first outdoor commercial patio, saying it raised traffic, safety and noise concerns in the residential neighborhood.
"We don't need to bring any more activity to our neighborhood than is already there," said Julie Ekelund, who has lived next to the theater for 21 years.
City staff had recommended the council approve it Wednesday. But the council voted to direct staff to draft findings for denying it.
"Both sides have legitimate rights and concerns," Mayor Deb Kind said before the meeting. "We're supposed to balance their rights."
The theater, which has been around longer than the city itself, hasn't spurred complaints until recent years, according to city officials.
In 2013, Greg and Marissa Frankenfield bought the 560-seat theater from longtime owner Don Stolz and refurbished its 250-seat restaurant. In December, the city's Planning Commission recommended denial of their conditional-use permit application, saying that the patio would have an undue impact on the small neighborhood and that there wouldn't be enough parking for it.
Ekelund said that drunken bar patrons from other restaurants in the area "already spill into our neighborhood. We all want the Old Log to be successful … but we don't want it to come at a cost to our lifestyles."
The Old Log, the Twin Cities' oldest theater and a west-metro landmark, said the 670-square-foot paver patio would have added 32 dining seats and helped it compete with popular nearby restaurant patios. The patio would have been 320 feet from the nearest residential lot line.
Nearby residents said it would have increased noise and lowered property values. And they added that they're already frustrated with delivery trucks and theater traffic on quiet residential streets.
"It's a very small community," resident Matt Gallagher said. "We just don't want what we know comes with an outdoor patio in our backyard."
Greenwood, a small lake town of about 700 residents, has only one restaurant — the Old Log's Cast & Cru — nestled within the neighborhood.
Lake Minnetonka communities elsewhere have grappled with similar issues as the area continues to draw more visitors from across the Twin Cities. In neighboring Excelsior, the city re-examined liquor-license rules after police responded to nearly 200 alcohol-related incidents in a year. In Wayzata, a restaurant boom spurred parking issues and plans for a new parking ramp.
Some Greenwood residents worried a patio would do the same.
"That's what we didn't buy into," Ekelund said.