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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 8 years ago

Harry's attains some outdoor seats

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The Planning and Zoning Board approved a request by Harry’s Continental Kitchens Tuesday, Jan. 19 to use 16 seats, or four tables, under its restaurant roof overhang for outdoor dining.

Harry’s Continental Kitchens, 525 St. Judes Drive, lost the seats in September, after code-enforcement officer Heidi Micale reviewed outdoor dining at all of the restaurants on the island to make sure outdoor-dining seats reflected what was approved.

And when Harry’s Continental Kitchens co-owner Lynn Christensen brought forth a copy of its 1992 site plan for town staff to review, it was discovered the restaurant and deli had outdoor seats and parking spaces for which they never applied.

Co-owner Harry Christensen, who expanded the restaurant’s outdoor dining area two years ago, said he thought the town allowed outdoor seating and he didn’t know he had to request the seats.

But the planning board approved by a 9-0 vote Tuesday to allow the restaurant to use four tables, with up to 16 seats, that were already available for casual seating under the roof overhang and convert them into outdoor dining tables. This means that patrons who usually sat at the tables waiting for a table inside the restaurant can now be served there.

And, the planning board also moved forward for the Town Commission’s approval a request by the restaurant to have available six tables, with up to 24 seats total, on the extended patio that was previously built without town approval. That would bring the total to 40 potential outdoor dining seats.

The outdoor seats require off-site parking spaces to be increased from 13 spaces to 19 parking spaces. But Harry’s meets that requirement, in part, by using four of its spaces at the neighboring Harry’s Corner Store as part of a collective parking provision in the town code.

At least 10 parking spaces behind the deli have been removed and re-landscaped as a part of Joan M. Durante Park. And three parking spaces in front of the deli have been reverted to two parallel parking spaces, which is how the parking spaces were previously when the restaurant’s last site plan was approved more than 12 years ago.

Lynn Christensen said the proposal was “the best solution for us at this time.”

“We appreciate being able to get some outdoor dining back, so we can make some more money this season and make our customers happy,” Lynn Christensen said.

Longtime Harry’s patron Rusty Chinnis told the planning board he was happy he could eat outside again at the restaurant.

And Chinnis urged the planning board to consider reviewing and relaxing the codes regarding outdoor dining.

“It makes sense to relax the codes regarding outdoor dining to help restaurants make a living on this island,” Chinnis said.

Tree code and sign code discussion

The Planning and Zoning Board agreed to ask the Town Commission to hold a joint work-study group to explore the issues of the town’s tree code, which has been in limbo for more than two years, because the two groups can’t agree on what kind of tree code is best for the island.

Also Tuesday, planning staff received direction to make some sign-code rewrites that include limiting campaign sign placement to one sign per lot for up to 30 days. Candidates also must remove their signs within three days of the election. The planning board also wants to allow one “ride sign” above or below a real-estate sign.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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