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Date of Issue: October 04, 2007

Sandbar Restaurant to halt some beach weddings

Anna Maria and the Sandbar Restaurant have reached a “mutual agreement” that after Nov. 30, 2007, the restaurant will no longer hold outdoor weddings, Mayor Fran Barford told the city commission at its Sept. 27 meeting.

Weddings at the restaurant’s pavilion will continue, said Barford, as that is included in the Sandbar’s site plan. The restaurant had been utilizing the city’s special event permitting process for permission to hold weddings under a tent on the beach when the pavilion was already in use.

The mayor said a special event permit did not apply for such weddings. “An outdoor wedding was just not the right use of the process,” she added.

Efforts by the city and Chiles to find the proper process for the outdoor weddings to continue legally were stymied by the setback requirements at the restaurant, Chiles indicated. The city, however, did everything possible to find a solution, he said.

“We came to a mutual agreement. It was very amicable. Ed understands the situation,” Barford noted.

Chiles said he will continue his efforts to find a legal avenue for the outdoor weddings to continue, but will abide by the decision to halt outdoor weddings.

“I’ve got 12 brides that I have to call to tell them we can’t hold their wedding,” he said. “And a lot of businesses will be affected. But we’re going to continue our efforts with the mayor to find an agreeable solution.”

At one time, the city had indicated Chiles needed to amend his site plan for the city commission to approve outdoor weddings, but setback requirements quashed that plan.

A number of residents living near the Sandbar - and some not so near - have complained long and loud to city commissioners about the restaurant’s indoor and outdoor parties, even though the restaurant has been holding such events for the past 30 years.

Spring Avenue residents William and Barbara Nally filed a legal action against the city last year for its approval of the Sandbar’s site plan that included the pavilion weddings. No trial date has yet been set in that case.

In other business, the commission scheduled a shade meeting on its legal action against Roof USA for 4 p.m. on Oct. 18. Dye said a settlement offer has been made and he needs to inform commissioners of the proposal.

The first public hearing on the city’s comprehensive plan is scheduled for 5 p.m. that day.