More than 40 Longbeach Village residents packed Town Hall for the Longboat Key Town Commission’s Monday, May 20 regular workshop to request the commission reconsider a Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub site-plan amendment and special-exception approval.
It turns out they didn’t need to ask.
At the start of the workshop, Mayor Jim Brown announced Mar Vista owner Ed Chiles has requested a rehearing, and the project will be reviewed again at a later date.
The news didn’t stop a large portion of the audience from rising to the podium to denounce the project. Some residents even suggested the hearing shouldn’t be held again until October, when more Village residents will be back in town.
That request might become a reality if the town can’t advertise the hearing sufficiently before the commission has its summer hiatus in July and August.
What commissioners approved May 6 increases restaurant seating by 11 spots with a second-story waterfront dining addition and adds a meeting room and small deck in an adjacent historic house that could be used for private parties.
Currently, the restaurant at 760 Broadway has 169 indoor and outdoor seats.
The major change for the restaurant in the application, though, involves an old house, dubbed the Jordan House, which sits behind the restaurant closer to Broadway. The old house is currently used for storage, and Chiles wants to utilize it for patrons.
Village residents have expressed concern with the approval and are worried the restaurant’s total maximum occupancy capacity (either sitting or standing) now reaches 331 total possible patrons.
Chiles, though, said the 331 number is one he will never come close to exceeding. Chiles said he would never put more than 60 people in the meeting space, and if the restaurant is full in season, he has no intention of scheduling gatherings in the meeting room at the same time.
Several Village residents also told commissioners they live within 500 feet of Mar Vista and didn’t receive proper written notice that the Planning and Zoning Board and the Town Commission were reviewing the project. Town Manager Dave Bullock said town staff is investigating the complaint.
Commissioner Jack Duncan made a motion that other commissioners approved to review the project. Planning, Zoning and Building Director Robin Meyer told the Planning and Zoning Board Tuesday that the project is coming back before the planning board first at a future date.
Currently 1 Response
- As a resident who will be greatly affected by the Mar Vista expansion plans, I thought you summed up the situation most accurately with one exception. You characterize the application as a slight expansion when in fact it is an almost doubling of the current occupancy.
As it now stands, even before the expansion, the streets in the area are already plugged with cars on several nights of the week. Of course we are concerned when a plan is passed that could easily result in another fifty to a hundred more cars being parked in the neighborhood. Lois Street is already turned into a one-way street several nights of the week as cars park on both sides, effectively leaving one center lane.
I will assume you faithfully reported all of the rules and regulations Mar Vista must follow once this expansion takes place. What I don’t assume is that any of these rules and regulations will actually be enforced. The people who are going to enforce these provisions are the same people that apparently think the bulk of the restaurant’s patrons arrive by boat and bicycle. And does someone want to tell me where the valet parking is? Perhaps we can have them valet park in Commissioner Brenner’s neighborhood. Or maybe restaurant patrons can simply park in Commissioner Gans’ neighborhood and be bussed in and out. Are you guys for real?
If Mr. Chiles wants to expand on Longboat Key, why not take over the lease on the west end of the Publix mall. Or better yet, there is an entire Whitney Plaza to expand into.
The bottom line is that Mar Vista does not have the infrastructure to support the expansion in this neighborhood. If the expansion does take place, this neighborhood will look just like the neighborhood surrounding the Sandbar. The word blighted comes to mind.
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