City Council tables conditional use permit application for potential bar in Ancestor Square

Proposed location of the Feelloves' new bar in Ancestor Square, St. George, Utah, Dec. 4, 2020 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A rare thing occurred at Thursday night’s City Council meeting: After making a motion to approve a conditional use permit, Councilwoman Dannielle Larkin was met with silence.

The applicants — Jasher and Lisa Feellove, co-owners of Spiritual LLC and FeelLove Coffee — had expressed their desire to open what they called a “classy lounge” at 2 W. St. George Blvd. #5 in Ancestor Square. Following Larkin’s motion, the couple watched intently as the silence stretched on for several moments.

Finally, St. George Mayor Jon Pike spoke.

“If there’s no second, the motion dies,” he said. “We must make a motion or table the application.”

After more silence, the motion was indeed dead.

Moments before, the applicants enthusiastically pleaded their case.

“We have friends who are 30, 40, 50 years old,” Lisa Feellove said. “They don’t have anywhere to go for a date.”

Proposed location of new bar in Ancestor Square, St. George, Utah, Dec. 4, 2020 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

Jasher Feellove said that the space could be used to attract more business people and future homeowners to St. George.

“I know of so many people who come through St. George,” he said. “They’re considering moving here, but they can’t find a classy place to enjoy a drink. They’re not looking to get inebriated; they just want to socialize.”

His wife added that the establishment, which would be housed in a 2,600-square-foot barn, could be used as an event space during the day and would attract a mature crowd seeking a lively option for night life.

“The firehouse is not for the crowd we’re trying to bring in,” she said, referring to the Zion Brewery, which opened in the former Fire Station 2 across Main Street from Ancestor Square. “It’s a bunch of college kids.”

She added that George’s Corner Restaurant, located in Ancestor Square, also doesn’t fit the bill and that “Wood Ash Rye is in a hotel.”

The Feelloves said they love culture and want to bring more of it to St. George.

“I love St. George,” Jasher Feellove said. “I want to bring things to St. George that will fit into the context of St. George.”

Lisa Feellove, an interior designer who was born in Salt Lake City but lived in Los Angeles before moving to St. George, said she loves to create spaces that make people feel uplifted and inspired.

After the applicants made their case, Randall had only one question.

“Where will people park?” Randall asked. “Parking in Ancestor’s Square is a nightmare.”

Councilwoman Dannielle Larkin addressed the same issue but from another angle.

“It may push more people to park on the street,” she said.

George’s Corner in Ancestor Square, St. George, Utah, Dec. 4, 2020 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

Mayor Jon Pike asked Larkin for clarification.

“Are you saying we don’t want to provide too much parking?” Pike asked.

“Right,” Larkin said. “We don’t want our downtown to look like a Lowe’s parking lot. We want it to be quaint and walkable.”

Councilman Jimmie Hughes said that he’d thought often about the parking situation and also took issue with it.

“I keep asking myself: What’s the impact?” he said.

As it came clear that members of the council weren’t going to approve the application, City Attorney Shawn Guzman spoke up.

“In order to deny this application, the city must have a reasonable belief that the establishment would have a very detrimental impact upon the city,” Guzman said, at which point Councilman Gregg MacArthur asked exactly who gets to define “detrimental.”

The council ultimately voted unanimously to table the application until Dec. 17.

“This way, we can all take a closer look at the things,” Pike said. “The applicants will get their fair consideration, and we will have time to do a deeper research dive. The council doesn’t like to punt. This is more of a pause.”

On Friday, Dannielle Larkin told St. George News she doubted that the Feellove’s proposal would cause any detrimental effects upon the city.

“The legality isn’t there to deny this application,” she said. “I know there are many people who don’t want to see another bar open up in that area, but I can’t see any legal grounds to deny this permit … unless we can show that the establishment’s effects can’t be mitigated.”

Pike told St. George News that he also had questions about the legality of denying the situation.

Zion Brewery, St. George, Utah, Dec. 4, 2020 | Photo by David Dudley, St. George News

“I think it’s going to be hard to find legal grounds to deny this application,” he said. “There’s a list of 20 factors that these establishments must be able to mitigate. These center on health, safety. It’s going to be difficult to deny based upon those concerns.”

Larkin said she wasn’t surprised to be met with silence. She, too, had reservations about the application.

“We’ve had two bars open there in the past two years,” she said. “I wasn’t excited to see another application so soon. I want to see what the market does before moving forward with another.”

Pike said he also wondered whether it would be right to open yet another bar within a few hundred feet of three others but said that wasn’t necessarily grounds for denial.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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