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Total Tennis will vacate its 2,400-square-foot location next to Sun Garden Café this summer.
Siesta Key Thursday, May. 17, 2012 5 years ago

Restaurant rumors spark parking concerns

by: Alex Mahadevan News Innovation Editor

The exodus of Siesta Village mainstays Total Tennis and Anna’s Deli could spur another parking controversy, as rumors about a new restaurant swirl through the Village.

Total Tennis will move to a new location on Bee Ridge Road, vacating the 2,400-square-foot location adjacent to Sun Garden Café, which is currently zoned for retail use.

That designation, and the parking requirements it denotes, is the crux of three lawsuits filed by Chris Brown, owner of the Hub Baja Grill, the Cottage and Blu Que Island Grill.

The county requires retailers to have at least one parking space for every 250 square feet of store space used by patrons. A restaurant needs to have one for every 50 square feet, making the cramped parking quarters in Siesta Village fertile ground for zoning battles — as it has been since Brown filed his first lawsuit in 2007 against the county.

John Davidson, a prominent property owner who opened Davidson Drugs in Siesta Village more than 50 years ago, owns the site rumored to be the location of a new restaurant. Without modifications, a restaurant would need to prove it could provide as many as 48 parking spaces (depending upon the space denoted for patron use.)

Brad Bailey, the Sarasota County zoning administrator, said in a phone interview with the Pelican Press that for a restaurant to move into a location previously used for retail, it needs to prove it can meet parking requirements before any permits are issued. Restaurants could previously pay fines for each spot they would need for compliance, known as “phantom parking spots.”

Also, a prospective restaurant would not be able to claim spaces in the municipal lot east of the property, which was recently repainted by the county.

“People can’t just absorb (public) parking spots,” Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson explained.

Bailey said he was not aware of any permit applications for the location. And Sarasota County zoning and permitting staff manager Greg Yantorno said in an email that “there are no applications for permitting or certificates of occupancy for this location.”

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