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Date of Issue: April 02, 2008

Outdoor dining reserved for April 8

Holmes Beach city commissioners have reservations for April 8 to discuss revising rules for outdoor dining.

Commissioners talked briefly about changing the city’s outdoor dining ordinance during a meeting March 25, but agreed to resume discussions April 8.

Commissioner John Monetti and Mayor Rich Bohnenberger were lobbying lawmakers in Tallahassee last week and did not attend the March 25 meeting.

Commission chair Sandy Haas-Martens said both officials would want to join the discussion on any changes to the ordinance.

“Why don’t we think about it and come to some resolution at the next meeting,” she said.

The city allows restaurants to put eight seats outdoors, and more seats if adequate parking spaces exist.

Earlier this year, Commissioner David Zaccagnino asked to put outdoor dining on the commission agenda in response to a request from Skinny’s Place, a local restaurant that wants to increase its outdoor seating.

The commissioner has suggested increasing the number of allotted outdoor seats or easing the ties between parking and seating since some diners walk or take the trolley to a restaurant.

Other commissioners have shown an interest in amending the ordinance, but stressed safety as a top concern.

“I love outdoor dining,” Haas-Martens said. “But the fact is, it’s got to be safe.”

Commissioner Pat Morton said each restaurant location is unique and a revised ordinance would have to deal with “site-specific” concerns.