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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 4, 2020 1 year ago

Town moves ahead on new rules for restaurant parking

Buccaneer owners submit plans for 8,600 square foot bayfront spot.
by: Eric Garwood Managing Editor

On the same day as Town Commissioners began talking about new parking requirements for new restaurants in town, an old name for an old restaurant resurfaced. 

The town's Planning, Zoning and Building Department on Monday received site development plans and an application for a special exception from Columbia Restaurant Group to build the Buccaneer restaurant on the site of the former Pattiegeorge's at 4120 Gulf of Mexico Drive, just north of Bayfront Park. 

Documents indicate the company is planning an 8,755 square foot bayfront building, with 196 seats (144 indoors and 52 outdoors).  The single story restaurant would feature ground-level and rooftop outdoor seating.  Designers are planning for 49 parking spaces, in keeping with the town's existing requirement for a parking space for every four seats.  That application would not require Town Commission approval and would be heard by the town's Planning and Zoning Board. 

"Depending upon the timing of the submittal of the plan will impact whether they are allowed to proceed with the existing code standards should they get their application in before adoption of a new parking regulation ordinance or if the timing is such, perhaps the new regulations may be applicable, but it's all about the timing of the application, '' Town Attorney Maggie Mooney said. 

Town commissioners, by a vote of 6-1 approved a proposed ordinance changing the town's requirements from one parking space for every four patron seats to one requiring one parking space for every 150 square feet of total floor space. A second public hearing and vote wouldn't take place until April at the earliest. 

Members of the Planning and Zoning Board have been discussing parking rules for restaurants since October, with an eye toward some of the parking complaints that have arisen particularly on the north end of the island. In switching to a standard based on square footage, the idea was to account for not only patrons but also staff. 

"Any of you who think you should base it on seating is very naive because if you have 100 people out front, you have 15 people in the back and that means you're not covering your square footage,'' said BJ Bishop, chair of the Planning and Zoning Board and a commissioner-elect who takes her new seat on the commission March 23. "You have to cover your service staff, your kitchen staff, your bus people. If you're not doing that, you've got staff parked whereever.'' 

The new rules wouldn't apply to existing restaurants unless they undertook some kind of renovation that affected seating capacity, Mooney said. But as an example of the differences between the two standards, according to town staff, Dry Dock would go from its current 38 spaces to 41. Euphemia Haye would go from 21 to 29. MarVista from 28 to 55. Shore from 47 to 74. 

If planning under the new standard, the Buccaneer would require nine more space than the 49 currently required. 

Vice Mayor Ed Zunz was the only vote against the measure. He said he wanted more information on how the Planning and Zoning Board arrived at the 150 square foot figure. 

Columbia Group owner Richard Gozmart has said the new restaurant will be steeped in Longboat Key history. Gonzmart has said that his parents' favorite restaurant, excepting the Columbia, was The Buccaneer Inn, owned by Sarasota developer and Longboat Key luminary Herb Field.  The former Pattigeorge's building was torn down in June 2018.

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