The James City Board of Zoning Appeals approved a setback variance to allow Two Drummers to create an enclosed porch for seating in the front of the restaurant Thursday.
The variance reduces the minimum front building setback from 50 feet from the road right of way to 18.9 feet to allow for the building expansion. The restaurant is located at 8864 Richmond Road and zoned general agricultural, according to a county memo.
The restaurant’s plan is to enclose the existing front porch area — which includes a covered handicap ramp and vestibule — and put seating there. While the building’s footprint isn’t changing, enclosing the front porch violates the setback requirement because it’s technically considered an expansion by zoning ordinance, said James City zoning officer Louis Pancotti.
“The front is not extending further into the setback. It’s being enclosed, which for our purposes is an expansion into the setback,” Pancotti said.
The board voted unanimously to approve the variance.
Staff determined adherence to the zoning ordinance doesn’t restrict the property’s usage unreasonably, given that the property has a restaurant on it. Staff believed the variance won’t negatively affect adjacent properties or the character of the area.
Some board members questioned how the expansion would affect the restaurant’s parking located in front of the building along Richmond Road.
Two Drummers has plans to replace the restaurant’s parking area adjacent to Richmond Road with green space. Its new parking would be built behind the restaurant, said John Hopke of Hopke and Associates. Hopke filed the requested variance.
Hopke didn’t share a timeline for that project. The variance doesn’t affect the restaurant’s parking plans.
Restaurants are a special-use in general agricultural, and the Board of Supervisors approve a permit in 1996 and again in 2016 for an expansion.
Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.