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Date of Issue: August 13, 2008

Sandbar finally gets site-plan approval

It may have taken a bit more time and money than Sandbar Restaurant owner Ed Chiles expected, but a renovation project begun by the restaurant four years ago received final site-plan approval Aug. 5 from the Anna Maria Planning and Zoning Board.

That approval, however, came with stipulations.

The restaurant has to enclose its trash compactor and relocate it within 60 days, remove existing concrete pads for the Dumpster, install a new concrete pad under the relocated Dumpster to ensure no liquid drains from the container into the right of way, erect beach-access signs along Spring Avenue and, within 30 days, install bumpers in one of its parking lots.

Any controversy that might have been generated by the site plan was extinguished when Chiles decided not to pursue approval for another area to hold outdoor events, a location called “Site 2” in the plan.

City planner Alan Garrett said that under the approved site plan, Chiles cannot use other parts of the property for outdoor events without a special-event permit. Chiles currently can use a pavilion at the restaurant and the outdoor deck for such events.

Attorney Jeremy Anderson, who represents William and Barbara Nally of Spring Avenue, neighboring the Sandbar, said he was pleased Chiles had withdrawn that request.

Had that new location still been part of the site plan, Anderson said he was prepared to bring “expert witnesses” and a court reporter to the public hearing and “pursue case law” to prevent approval of the additional site.

Anderson said his actions would have been to preserve the rights of adjacent landowners.

He also said he was disappointed that the city would not have its attorney present at a public hearing on such a major issue in the city.

“We” need stipulations to the plan, Anderson said.

Board member Jim Conoly said he was concerned that delivery trucks were consistently parking in the city right of way when delivering to the Sandbar and questioned why the city was not enforcing its codes.

Following the meeting, code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon said the city commission policy is that code enforcement is “reactive,” not “proactive.” She can only take action on a perceived code violation when a legal complaint is lodged with the city.

The commission has consistently upheld that policy for the past six years.

The P&Z board will next meet at 7 p.m. Aug. 22, and continue its discussion of site-plan review procedures.