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Longboat Key Wednesday, Sep. 16, 2009 8 years ago

Moore's zoning request on hold

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Moore’s Stone Crab Restaurant & Marina’s 43rd season in business starts Oct. 5.

And this season could be the restaurant’s last, according to owner Alan Moore.

If Moore can’t get the town’s Planning and Zoning Board to make a recommendation to the Town Commission on his request to change the commercially zoned property at 800 Broadway to a residential site, he says won’t be able to renegotiate his business’s double-digit interest-rate loans that are due in January.

Moore was dealt a setback at the planning board’s Tuesday, Sept. 15, meeting when the nine-person board, which was absent three board members, reached a 3-3 stalemate. That pushes the recommendation to the board’s Tuesday, Oct. 20, regular meeting.

According to Moore’s application, “economic conditions and the changing character of the north end of Longboat Key have created a significant financial burden on the owners of the property.”

Peter Dailey, the hired agent for Moore’s property, told the planning board that the rezoning of the property from commercial to residential would allow the owners to continue to operate the restaurant while having a sound, financial-exit strategy in place in case the business is no longer financially viable.

But planning board member George Symanski Jr. said Moore’s financial ability to run the restaurant should not be considered a factor for the planning board.

And, Symanski took issue with town planner Ric Hartman’s report, which recommended approval of Moore’s request.

“Everything you are saying in your report applies to Mar Vista, too,” Symanski said. “Should that restaurant go away, too?”

Hartman, however, said his report simply states that if the restaurant property became a residential site, it would become more conforming in an area that’s surrounded by residential homes.

But Symanski disagreed.

“You as staff are recommending a major policy change,” Symanski said. “Staff might as well be saying it’s in the public’s best interest that Moore’s and Mar Vista go away and that becoming houses is in the best interest of the citizens of Longboat Key.”

Moore, who has worked for six years to attain this zoning change and spent thousands of dollars on lawyers and town fees, was upset with Symanski’s comments and disputed them.

“Nowhere in this application does it talk about Mar Vista asking for a zoning change and disappearing,” Moore said. “We have followed the rules, and unless you want another dead business on the island, I’m asking for a chance to keep my restaurant going.”

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