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The City Council has approved a special permit to allow the owners of Cape Ann Lobstermen to operate a restaurant at 115 E. Main St., pictured.

It took more than 2 ½ hours for the City Council to grant a special permit for a proposed 132-seat seafood restaurant with an outdoor patio at the former Bob’s Clam Shack location on East Main Street in East Gloucester.

And the time it took to do this was significant because the lengthy restaurant hearing ate into the time the council had allotted to digest a public hearing on several controversial zoning proposals that have been on its plate for several months.

As the public hearing on Cape Ann Lobstermen’s proposed restaurant dragged past 11 p.m.on Tuesday, Council President Valerie Gilman opened the public hearing on the zoning amendments and continued it to a special meeting on Tuesday, May 17, at 6:30 p.m.

The applicant for the special permit at 115 E. Main St. is Rocky Neck Lobster Company II Inc., doing business as Cape Ann Lobstermen, which is leasing space on the first floor of Building 121 from property owner Jimary Land Trust LLC, trustee of East Gloucester Marine Realty Trust, according to city documents.

The restaurant and a commercial kitchen proposal is “a natural offshoot of the successful retail and wholesale lobster seafood business operated by Cape Ann Lobstermen at this location,” said Gloucester attorney Deborah Eliason for the applicant. A message Cape Ann Lobstermen principal Tessa Browne left at the business seeking comment was not returned by press time.

The restaurant is expected to add 25 jobs and seek a seasonal liquor license for its use. The “ocean-to-table” business would not only add jobs, Eliason said, but support the local fishing industry.

Neighbors said they had respect for the new restaurant’s owners, but called for limits on the restaurant’s hours of operation.

“I’m not opposed to a restaurant. I’m not opposed to a commercial kitchen,” said John Doyle, who lives directly across the street from the new restaurant. “I just feel that everything they have said they want to do can be done by 10 o’clock at night, maybe 11 on the weekends.

Leontine Hartzell, who lives on Hammond Street, echoed Doyle.

Hartzell was not opposed to the restaurant and loves the working waterfront, “but I feel that it is imperative for the preservation of the peace and quality and home values of this residential neighborhood that there be very specific conditions, most importantly and foremost, that the restaurant not be allowed not to be open after 11 p.m. on weekends or after 10 p.m. on weeknights. There are families, children who live in this area.”

The applicant, Eliason said, had asked that the restaurant’s hours not be a condition of the special permit due to the need for flexibility. The applicant was not seeking an entertainment license, she said.

Others testified on behalf of the local business owners.

“I’m in support of the city permitting Tessa Browne to open up a restaurant for a couple of reasons,” said charter boat captain and lobsterman Kevin O’Maley of Crafts Road. He said fishing and tourism are two of the larger economic drivers in Gloucester and given recent cost increases, the restaurant can provide price stability for fishermen.

The council also wrestled with three conditions proposed by Councilor at-Large Jason Grow.

Grow proposed that the last seating be no later than 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and no later than 11 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays; in the event of entertainment inside, the windows should be closed to minimize neighborhood impact; and if ownership of the restaurant changes, the new owner would be required to reaffirm all conditions.

In the end, after voting on the amendments individually, the council voted 9-0 to grant the special permit, adding the conditions for the hours Grow proposed, and that windows should be closed if there is entertainment inside. Councilors rejected the condition for a new restaurant owner to have to come back before the council to reaffirm conditions.

The building where the restaurant is proposed had long been an eyesore, but the exterior has been remodeled, Eliason said. The proposed restaurant would have 92 seats inside and 40 outside along with takeout, and Eliason told the council there is more than enough parking — 86 spaces and three handicap spaces— on the more than 3.2-acre lot.

The commercial kitchen would stay open all year, Eliason said. Cape Ann Lobstermen currently rents Building 115 on the property for its seafood and lobster business, and Eliason said some of those operations would be moving to 427 Main St., reducing truck activity on East Main Street.

John Lowe, who lives on Hammond Street, said the proposal would bring new life to the neighborhood.

“It’s going to bring revenue to the city, said Lowe. “It’s going to help the commercial fishing industry by selling seafood directly to customers and also revenue for taxes for the city.”

Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-675-2714, or eforman@northofboston.com.

Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-675-2714, or eforman@northofboston.com.

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