September 16th, 2011 11:40 am | by EMILY GREEN News | Posted In: Business

Legare's Faces Closure For Zoning Violations

Tags: legares
jonathon.legareJonathan Legare
Legare’s, a Southeast cafe, is facing closure by the city of Portland. The reason: Inspectors say the café is illegally running a coffee shop and motorcycle repair site in a residential zone.

The owner, Jonathan Legare, says that as far he knew, the zoning for the building at 1532 SE Clinton St., allowed him to run what he calls a resource center, where people can eat, drink coffee and borrow tools—including to fix motorcycles out front.

But a Sept. 7 notice of zoning violations from the city says Legare has 30 days to stop operating as a cafe and motorcycle repair. Legare might be able to keep his café open if he can prove other businesses have operated there consistently in the past. He might also have to go through a land use review, which could take months.

WW featured Legare’s in its most recent Best of Portland issue in July, calling it the “Best Place to Talk to Strangers.”

Legare says he’s had his shop running for five years without a problem until July, when neighbors started complaining about the noise from the motorcycles.

"The reality is, it's a breaking point," says Legare, who tells WW he's struggled financially to stay open. "To have something as esoteric as this come up in such a bad economic time is ridiculous."

Legare says visitors aren’t required to purchase anything when they come in to use wifi, watch presentations or attend workshops—all for free. “The center’s basis is on education and getting people through life,” he says.

But the city says that if Legare wants go get through the next 30 days, he’s got to make his shop legal.

Legare plans to apply for a conditional use permit on Monday, and is urging his patrons to speak on his behalf at the next Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood Development Association meeting this Tuesday evening at St. Philip Neri Church. Legare says he hopes the support of community members at this meeting will prompt HAND to write a letter to the city in favor of allowing Legare’s to keeps its doors open.

WW hasn't heard back yet from officials at the city's Bureau of Development Services, which sent Legare the notice.
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