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Dog House Tavern owners withdraw street vacation request
A planned public hearing concerning Langley’s vacation of a sliver of First Street never happened Monday.
The original request came from the Dog House Tavern owners, who Community Planning Director Jeff Arango said withdrew their proposal. News of the owners’ retreat from developing the long disused building and a city icon on First Street hit the city council members hard.
“It’s just so distressing to have these buildings that people own, who don’t live here, not develop [them],” said Councilwoman Rene Neff.
Last year, Dog House Tavern owners Janice and Charlie Kleiner asked the city for assistance with a small strip of city property. They said that it was necessary for them to own it in order to make structural improvements to the building, which would allow them to lease the street-level portion of the building while they converted the top floor into residential living space.
Arango said that the city refused to vacate part of the street outright because it was not in the city’s best interest, but that alternatives were offered that would have allowed the Kleiners to move forward.
“This is a very minor issue in their larger scheme,” he said.
Councilwoman Margot Jerome wondered if the owners felt that the city supported their work in trying to reopen the historic building. She noted that sometimes the process of building permits can be daunting and make owners feel unwelcome. Arango defended the process, noting the “complexity” of the property because it is a public shoreline access — one of a select few in Langley.
“I think the document shows you, we, were really seeking to help them,” Jerome said, referring to the alternative options Arango presented the Kleiners.
One of the options was a deal for them to use the property in exchange for use of part of their property for the public. It also included a clause that the city could revoke the owners’ use of the city property at any time, protecting the city’s interest.
"They're trying to get something of greater value for something of lesser value," said Charlie Kleiner. "It's certainly not a fair exchange."