By John Schaffner

The Havana Club owners used an innovative connection between the club at 3112 Piedmont Road and a series of neighbors on Maple Drive to convince Neighborhood Planning Unit B (NPU-B) June 2 that they will be able to meet the parking requirement to satisfy the zoning law and obtain the liquor license for their nightclub operation.

Club owner Mahesh Harjani was before the NPU-B board seeking a special exception from zoning regulations to reduce the required on-site parking spaces for the 12,280-square-foot club from 173 to 49 while providing off-site parking for 146 vehicles within 500 feet of the club.

Harjani came up with shared parking arrangements with several businesses on Maple Drive that close before 8 p.m. daily and are within 500 feet of the proposed Havana Club on Piedmont Road. The problem was that valets would have to drive the cars down to East Paces Ferry Road, over to Maple and back up Maple to get to the parking.

That plan was neither efficient nor likely to pass muster with the NPU-B Zoning Committee or board.

So, in working with the retailers on Maple Drive, Harjani came up with a plan for an easement between the club property and one of the five parking lots on Maple Drive so that a drive could be cut through between the properties, allowing valets direct access to the parking spaces on Maple Drive.

Both the NPU-B Zoning Committee and full board voted to accept the variance for the off-site parking, to allow the easement for the drive between the properties and to approve the Havana Club’s application for a liquor license, based on meeting the parking requirements.

In other actions, the NPU-B board:

• Approved the liquor license application for Scott McCray and his new Lot 99 neighborhood tavern and restaurant, which will be on Land Lot 99 at 128 E. Andrews Drive.

• Approved the change of agents on liquor licenses for the J.W. Marriott Hotel at Lenox Square, for the Residence Inn Hotel at 2960 Piedmont Road and for The Fresh Market at 4405 Roswell Road.

• Deferred a request to rezone 79-99 W. Paces Ferry Road to allow Barry Real Estate Cos. to build a hotel/condominium project that essentially would mirror the new St. Regis property across West Paces Ferry Road. The development would feature 250 hotel rooms, 50 condominiums and retail on the ground floor.

The request was deferred because the developers had only a disputed verbal agreement from one member of the adjacent homeowners association approving the project. Both the Zoning Committee and the full NPU board wanted a letter from the board of the neighborhood association. The board indicated it likely will approve the application if the letter is presented at the next meeting.