North Hill food prep business grilled at special meeting

Dawnelle Washington reads from a prepared statement during a public hearing Thursday while flanked by her husband, Donnell. The Washingtons plan to open a food prep business, D&D’s Homemade Plates, from their Edgewood Avenue home. 

A controversial North Hill home-based restaurant was denied a conditional use request in a 3 to 2 vote at Thursday's city council meeting. 

The "home occupation outdoor kitchen for takeout food" was to be at 319 E. Edgewood Ave., the home of Dawnelle and Donnelle Washington. The proposed business — D&D’s Homemade Plates — brought neighbors and other North Hill residents to planning commission and council meetings to speak out in opposition to it, claiming it didn't meet the allowable stipulations under the city's zoning ordinances. 

Council denies conditional use request

Council president Tom Smith cast the deciding vote against the conditional use. He reasoned that though it resembled another at-home business in the North Hill that council recently approved, that one was confined inside a house unlike the Washington's venture. Though not by name, Smith was referencing The Pacific Islander Company, an Asian food preparation business at 424 Sumner Ave., that was approved for a conditional use request in April. 

"That's my position," Smith said. "This is outside of the physical structure. That can create an array of issues, a safety issue for the neighborhood and we've heard the concerns of the neighborhood. The reference we've heard to the one that we approved — again, that was inside the individual's home. At this time, I will vote to deny."

Smith was joined in denying the conditional use by councilmen Bryan Cameron and Tim Fulkerson. Patsy Cioppa and MaryAnne Gavrile voted in favor of it. Gavrile said that under the ordinance, the venture was a takeout business and not a restaurant.

"We continually deny conditional uses and then we get taken to court," she said. "We have to follow the law. That's just how I feel. My feet have been in both shoes about this. I don't want to approve this. I just feel that after talking to the zoning officer and others, this is the way I needed to go."

Cameron, Fulkerson and Cioppa didn't elaborate on their decisions prior to casting votes. 

The Washingtons said at a planning commission meeting last month they have a shed next to their house outfitted for cooking with a stove, griddle, deep fryer and commercial refrigerator. At the meeting, the couple said they've spent about $30,000 from their savings on items and supplies for the business.

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Digital editor

Pete Sirianni is the News' assistant editor and digital editor. He is a proud Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate, earning a degree in journalism and public relations. Contact him at or on Twitter at @PeterSirianni.

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