NEWBURYPORT — The payment of more than $40,000 in back water bills by the owner of a downtown building that suffered fire damage a month ago has cleared the way for Glenn's Galley and Cool Bar to reopen May 1.

The unpaid water bill by the owners of the Merrimac Mill Building at 44 Merrimac St. had caused a tie-up with city permitting, which threatened to delay the reopening of the restaurant, where the fire started in a vent on March 14.

According to Water Department Chairman George Lawler, the $40,000 bill owed to the Water and Sewer Departments was built up over the last few years. Because of the bill, the city would not allow new permits to be pulled for the building's tenants, causing Glenn's owners and operators, Glenn Mayers and Charlene Ferreira, to fear they would not open on time.

"Glenn is a tenant and the owner of the property owes the city money," Lawler said. "It's unfortunate because it could hurt the guy, but arrangements are being made."

But late Thursday afternoon, building manager Tracy Jan made a full payment to the city's Water Department to make sure nothing was owed.

"The owner didn't mean to fall behind on payments," Jan said. "These things happen with vacancies, etc. We don't want a problem and we certainly want to be good landlords to Glenn's."

The restaurant and bar caught fire when creosote build-up in the kitchen vents ignited. No one was injured in the fire. Fire officials said the vents had been cleaned and were up to code.

Since then, the owners have worked to clean and renovate the restaurant, but according to Ferreira, those plans had been on hold until Thursday.

"There is a dispute between the Water Department and the landlord," Ferreira said before the balance was paid Thursday.

With a newly painted interior and a new kitchen in the works, Ferreira said construction is on schedule. With a new coat of paint and a new dining room configuration, Glenn's is almost back to normal, Ferreira said.

"Things are moving along; we've painted and reconfigured the dining room. It is fun and updated," she said.

As for what diners can expect once Glenn's reopens, Ferreira said the old favorites will remain.

"It will be more of the same with some updates to the menu," Ferreira said. "We hope to offer a little more."