Planned Balkan Grill restaurant in St. John's has new life

St. John’s council to debate extending expiration date of non-conforming use policy

Published on August 21, 2017

Eldin Husic (right) and his wife Adnela Halebic-Husic, shown here with their sons Mehmed-Mesha, left, and Tarik, are hopeful that St. John’s city council will vote to extend the non-conforming use expiration date on commercial properties in residential zone such that they can open the Balkan Grill on Boncloddy Street.

©Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

Eldin Husic’s dream to convert the former Sports Bar on Boncloddy Street to an ethnic restaurant serving Balkan cuisine may not be dead after all.

The native of Bosnia-Herzegovina saw plans for the liquor-free, family-friendly Balkan Grill come to a screeching halt last week when it was determined that the non-conforming use which permitted the commercial property to operate in the residential zone had reached its three-year expiration date in in June.

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At Monday’s regular City of St. John’s council meeting, Coun. Art Puddister brought a notice of motion to extend the time frame to four years.

“I believe in the rules, but every now and then if the rule is wrong then you have to go back and rewrite and think outside the box and that's what I did,” said Puddister, chairman of the city’s planning committee. “Let's start thinking outside the box, let's find a way for council and staff to make this happen for this man and his family.”

The matter will be discussed at the next regular meeting on Sept. 5. Puddister, however, had hoped to have the waiting period waived and engage council on the matter on Monday.

“I do believe some members of council are not overly comfortable with this four-year (extension) because the purpose of the three-year time frame is to get these non-conforming uses out of neighbourhoods,” he says.

For his part, Husic has renewed confidence that things will work out in his favour.

“I'm really happy here that the city fathers have took their time to even consider my case and to look at it holistically rather than legally,” he said.

In the event it doesn’t go his way, Husic has consulted with his lawyer and said there is a clause in the purchase agreement that the sale is only finalized on the condition that council gives the commercial operation a green light.

Puddister says if that’s how it plays out, he’s happy work with Husic to help find another property for the restaurant.

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