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Date of Issue: February 08, 2007

Another parking lot approval recommended

Call it one more time ....

Bradenton Beach Planning and Zoning Board members have again recommended approval of a parking lot at the Gulf Drive Cafe, 901 Gulf Drive N. The latest incarnation is west of Gulf Drive, just south of the popular beachfront restaurant on part of what once was the former Trader Jack’s Restaurant property, all of which is owned by Wendy and George Kokolis.

The parking lots - or lots, since there has also been a longstanding dispute of off-site parking to the property across the street - ended up in court, where a judge ruled that the plan as presented by the Kokolises should be approved by the city.

Attorney Scott Rudacille, representing the Kokolises, said the matter before the board represented the results of the court-ordered settlement. A fence to the south of the restaurant will be moved 16 feet farther south to allow better parking and traffic flow.

"We will be bringing a master plan back to the city for the whole property," Rudacille said. "This is just a stop-gap measure to bring us into legality on the property."

Future plans for the site are still uncertain, although a parking lot on the east side of Gulf Drive has also been approved through the courts.

Mayor John Chappie told the planning and zoning board members that he "urged" them to approve the parking lot due to the court order. "Sometimes you can’t clean up everything you want to do," he told the board.

Chappie told The Islander after the meeting that he addressed the board to remind them that the court had ordered a settlement in the matter. Final decision on the issue will come before the city commission for ratification, although Chappie said he would recuse himself from voting on the matter.

Board members voiced concerns regarding the apparent enhancement of non-conformity issues on the site. Ernest Clay specifically questioned the lack of space for delivery trucks to the restaurant and traffic flow for the restaurant - some vehicles have to back into Gulf Drive to exit parking spaces fronting the street.

Building official Ed Mc Adam said that he was confident that the forthcoming master plan would address all the concerns of the site and urged approval of the conversion of the non-conforming use to a less non-conforming use.

Planners recommended approval of the matter to the city commission, with Clay dissenting.