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Date of Issue: April 14, 2005

Sandbar vacation plays to packed Anna Maria house

The Sandbar restaurant’s request to Anna Maria to vacate a city alleyway at its location in exchange for another owned by the Sandbar played before a packed Anna Maria City Commission meeting April 11, but commissioners made no decision after nearly three hours of testimony.

"This was just the first reading" of the vacation request, said Commission Chairperson John Quam. The final reading and public hearing, along with the commission’s initial site plan review of proposed changes to the restaurant, will be May 19 at a special commission meeting.

The Sandbar has proposed to swap an alleyway it owns with a city alleyway along the restaurant building that it has used since 1979 when owner Ed Chiles and his family bought the property.

Chiles needs the city alleyway to build rest rooms that will comply with a lawsuit filed against his business under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

At the same time, Chiles has proposed several modifications to the Sandbar. In exchange for the alleyway, Chiles has promised to spend about $175,000 improving the drainage along Spring Avenue and building a paved walkway from the parking lot to the restaurant that will also be used by the public to access the beach.

Opponents argue the alleyway swap will only lead to expansion of the business, or conversion from a restaurant to another commercial enterprise.

The planning and zoning board has recommended approval of the vacation and swap to the commission