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UPDATE: Commission approves World of Beer liquor license

City officials recommended approval of a new liquor license for World of Beer. Residents call the bar a good neighbor. So why was the application so divisive?

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  • | 5:50 a.m. January 5, 2017
Residents are concerned about sound issues stemming from future tenants of the property at 1888 Main St.
Residents are concerned about sound issues stemming from future tenants of the property at 1888 Main St.
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UPDATE: The City Commission voted Monday to hold a public hearing before allowing the use of a new liquor license at a Main Street bar — and less than four hours later reversed its decision and approved the application.

The two 3-2 votes Monday were indicative of a surprisingly contentious approval process, underscoring concerns neighbors had about the future of the two-story property.

Although the commission initially voted to hold another public hearing, Commissioner Liz Alpert later changed her vote. The majority of the commission applauded World of Beer’s track record of success.

“If it ain’t broke, leave it,” Commissioner Suzanne Atwell said. “They’ve had quite a good reputation.”

Previously: Even after two public meetings drew scant feedback, City Commissioner Liz Alpert wants to give residents one last chance to comment on a Main Street bar’s application for a new liquor license.

On Tuesday, the City Commission is scheduled to rule on that application, which comes from the owners of World of Beer, located at 1888 Main St. The item is bundled into the meeting’s consent agenda, which would involve no discussion before the commission makes a decision.

Alpert has already asked city staff to pull that item from the consent agenda and reschedule it “at a time that public can comment,” per an email she sent Dec. 30.

Her request is a response to concerns from residents at the Rivo at Ringling condominium located at 1771 Ringling Blvd. One of those residents, Curt Schantz, makes clear that his worries don’t pertain to World of Beer specifically.

“They’ve been really good neighbors,” Schantz said. “They’ve taken great pains to control their music so it’s not a problem for us.”

Instead, Schantz and others are troubled by what the future may hold for the property if the license request is approved.

World of Beer, which opened in 2015, is applying to use a 4COP liquor license — which the city designates as a “nightclub” use. World of Beer has operated using an SRX liquor license, designated for restaurant use. The bar applied for a new license in September because it failed to generate 51% of its revenue from food sales, which is required to use the SRX license.

The use of a 4COP license requires City Commission approval. No members of the public showed up to a community workshop held Sept. 21 to discuss World of Beer’s proposal. On Dec. 14, the city’s Planning Board voted 4-1 to recommend approval of the liquor license application.

At that meeting, Schantz and fellow Rivo resident Dean Miller raised one point of concern. Staff initially recommended a series of conditions attached to the liquor license, one of which would prohibit live or amplified music on the restaurant’s second-floor outdoor patio without a permit.

After representatives for World of Beer pointed out they have used that area for music without issue, the Planning Board agreed to remove that condition. But Schantz said he’s worried about what happens if World of Beer leaves.

He said previous tenants of that property, Eat Here and Esca, were less accommodating than World of Beer when it came to music.

“The two predecessors that were in there were really bad neighbors,” Schantz said. “Week after week — high amplification, with music late into the evening.”

If the city approves use of the 4COP license, the right to use that liquor license would remain attached to the property even if World of Beer leaves. One of the conditions tied to the approval states the tenant of that building has to be a restaurant to use the license. Staff recommended another condition that would require food service during all hours of operation.

But residents at Rivo remain concerned that, if a new business moves into the space at 1888 Main St., there will be more noise-related issues.

City staff addressed those concerns at the Planning Board meeting. Gretchen Schneider, the city’s general manager of planning and development, said any business would still have to comply with the city’s noise ordinance.

That was little comfort for Schantz, one of several downtown residents to suggest those regulations are ineffective.

“The noise ordinance is not relief for the citizens at all,” Schantz said.

One Planning Board member, Patrick Gannon, shared similar concerns and recommended more stringent conditions attached to the license. The rest of the board applauded World of Beer for its ability to avoid generating trouble and voted in favor of granting the license.

In a previous interview with the Sarasota Observer, World of Beer owner Mark Broderick pledged the business would remain a model tenant — and took issue with the terminology attached to the 4COP license.

“‘Nightclub’ — it’s a weird language to use,” Broderick said. “I think the Sarasota city government should have another description in which it should fall.”

Although it’s now unclear when the city will make a final ruling on the World of Beer application, the public will get one more opportunity to weigh in before a decision is reached.

The full agenda for Tuesday’s City Commission meeting can be found on the city website.


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