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Council approves parking, live music exemptions for new Nivel Restaurant
Nivel restaurant update
Nivel Restaurant and Lounge will cover nearly 6,000 square feet at 309 N. Center St., be within the city height limits of 40 feet and have multiple outdoor seating areas on both floors (Photo contributed).

A number of concerns regarding the building of the brand new, two-story Nivel Restaurant and Lounge at 309 N. Center St. were heard at the Oct. 10 Turlock City Council meeting. Luckily for Jose Pulido, the man behind the project application, the project received a unique exemption from a key piece of zoning ordinance.

At the meeting, with Mayor Amy Bublak absent, council members unanimously approved a deviation of the existing zoning ordinance to allow for the structure, which was approved by the City of Turlock Planning Commission in August, to be built despite there not being enough parking spots to accommodate for the restaurant’s occupancy.

The City of Turlock’s zoning ordinance for restaurants, cafes and other eating establishments currently requires one off-street parking space per three seats or per 100-square-feet of gross floor area. By those standards, Nivel would need 113 off-street, on-site parking spaces. 

The projects current plans, which includes the improvement of the parcel at 311 Mitchell Ave., would leave space for just 27 on-site spaces. 

Pulido and the property owner of the shopping center across the street at  334 N. Center St., though, came to an agreement so that Nivel patrons can use their parking lot during the restaurant’s hours of operation, which are expected to be after 5 p.m. when most of the businesses are closed. Still, the parking lot agreement and deviation from the zoning ordinance would only bring the number of parking spots to 64.

In addition to the 64 spots, there are roughly 22 on-street parking areas, pushing the number of spots to 86.

But it’s no problem, according to City of Turlock senior planner Adrienne Werner.

“We’ve been able to look at that (the 64 parking spots), the on-street parking and parking in the area to be comfortable with approving the reduction in [off-street] parking,” Werner said.

Nevertheless, by law, there must be a crosswalk added connecting the parking lot from the shopping center to the corner lot of 309 N. Center St. where Nivel would be located. Additionally, if the agreement with the property owner of the shopping center at 334 N. Center St. were to ever dissolve, the restaurant would only be allowed to operate on one floor. It’s a risk Pulido is willing to take.

The new building, which will cover nearly 6,000 square feet and be within the city height limits of 40 feet, will have multiple outdoor seating areas on both floors. Concerns regarding noise were also addressed considering Pulido has expressed a desire to create a “Mexico City vibe” by way of live entertainment, such as mariachi bands.

“Typically in our ordinance, the restaurant use does allow for small, intimate entertainment. Just small background music, nothing that would have amplified music like larger venues. What they’re requesting is more like what the TMC (Turlock Municipal Code) would define as a nightclub,” Werner said. “One of the concerns that we had as staff was that the amplified music and noise would travel into the neighborhood.”

Werner explained that a noise analysis was conducted showing that the structure of the building could mitigate the noise. In addition, the Turlock Police Department has requested that there be no live entertainment in the outdoor patio areas, which Pulido has agreed to. On top of that, the restaurant must have windows and doors closed when there is live entertainment except when workers and patrons are walking in or out of the building to serve those outdoor seating areas.

According to Werner, the Planning Commission had only received one note of concern from a nearby resident and none from neighboring businesses regarding the application to build the two-story restaurant.