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Date of Issue: July 16, 2008

Holmes Beach to serve up dining ordinance

The Holmes Beach City Commission is nearly finished cooking up revisions to its outdoor dining ordinance.

Commissioners, meeting June 24 at city hall, reviewed a draft ordinance intended to increase outdoor dining opportunities, making slight revisions and agreeing the measure is ready for a first reading July 22.

 “There’s a lot of goods written into this thing,” Commissioner John Monetti said, referring to notations he made in the proposed ordinance. “Good, good, good, good, good. I’m reading this as a restaurant guy.”

Monetti, who oversees operations of the Columbia Restaurant on St. Armands Circle, inquired about a couple of provisions in the ordinance.

“I don’t want something written in to make it impossible,” Monetti said, referring to a point at which an outdoor dining application might get bumped to the city’s board of adjustment for review. “We want to make it possible. We’re trying to avoid a burden.”

After some discussion, commissioners agreed to leave the mechanism for the board of adjustment to review a request to expand a “non-conforming” use.

“It doesn’t seem too burdensome,” Monetti concluded.

At the suggestion of Commissioner Pat Duffy, owner of Duffy’s Tavern, the commission did strike a requirement that “outdoor dining seats and tables shall be under a roof, awning or portable umbrellas.”

“I don’t think we should dictate that,” Geyer said, and she found no argument with other commissioners.

The commissioners also added to the ordinance hours for outdoor dining - from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends.

Commission Chair Sandy Haas-Martens said, “If it gets too noisy and the neighbors fuss…”

“We’ll hear about it,” Monetti said, completing the sentence.

The commission began discussing the expansion of outdoor dining opportunities in February, at the urging of Commissioner David Zaccagnino. He called for a review after receiving a request to add outdoor seats at Skinny’s Place on Gulf Drive.

The commission’s initial discussion centered on whether the city wanted to revisit the city ordinance, which presently allots eight outdoors seats to restaurants.

At subsequent meetings, commissioners began to review outdoor dining ordinances from other cities and develop revised rules for Holmes Beach.

The draft that will be presented for a first reading at a 7 p.m. commission meeting July 22 would create an administrative permit process for restaurants.

The measure continues the eight allowed seats, but also provides a process for restaurants to add outdoor seats and an annual renewal of permits.

Specifically, the ordinance, if adopted, would require:

  • Applications be made to the mayor, or the mayor’s designee, likely city staff.
  • Applications be accompanied by an authorization from the property owner.
  • Applications contain a site plan that includes “the proposed location of the outdoor dining area, showing dimensions, ingress/egress access, exits and the proposed number of outdoor seats and tables.”
  • Applications include a description of existing inside seats and tables and permitted parking spaces.
  • Applications include an explanation of how the outdoor dining area will complement the existing building and not create the need for additional parking spaces.
  • Applications also be approved by the West Manatee Fire Rescue District.

The draft ordinance states that “parking must be addressed” as an issue, that no food preparation take place in the outdoor dining area, that outdoor seats cannot be moved indoors and that outdoor seats not encroach on rights of ways and not “interfere with on-site vehicular and pedestrian circulation, parking and loading areas.”