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Variances approved for new Bemidji restaurant

The Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board has approved a request from Doug Howe for three variances that would allow for the renovation of the former Bonanza building.

Doug and Reva Howe built the restaurant as a Mr. Steak franchisee in 1977 and operated it until 1985, when they sold it to Kathy Guess. Guess ran the business as a Bonanza restaurant until closing on Jan. 1.

Now the Howes are in the process of buying the business back and plan to renovate the building to accommodate an upscale, two-story eatery to be named Sparkling Waters Restaurant.

The JPB authorized the three variances - side setback, front setback and impervious surface - under the following conditions:

-- Signage will be lowered and landscaped to provide a better visual experience along waterway and roadways.

-- Additional green space shall be added by landscaping the southeast end and entrance of the parking lot, with a goal of a maximum of 80 percent impervious surface without sacrificing parking spaces or traffic flow.

-- Parking spaces along the east side of lot should be secured via easement from adjoining property.

-- There shall be no additional encroachment toward the front yard.

-- Complete landscape plan shall be submitted with request for a building permit.

-- The trash collection area should be enclosed and landscaped.