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Mar Vista expansion creates complaints in historic Longboat Village

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

An application to further expand the Mar Vista Restaurant’s seating capacity as well as the desire to intensify the use of a neighboring historic building has neighbors concerned in the Longbeach Village community.

Restaurant owner Ed Chiles was in attendance at last Monday’s regular commission meeting to explain that excessive parking generally has only occurred, and will occur, during its Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration and at the occasional special event such as the Historic Fish Fry.

But for Corinne and Samir Ragheb who live directly across Broadway St. from the Mar Vista as well as Moore’s Restaurant, object to what they say is excessive development and inconsistent with the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

“It’s incredible to think this would be allowed. All of a sudden we are all about business,” said Corinne Ragheb at last week’s commission meeting.

Resident Pete Rowen complained that the addition will allow a grand total of up to 331 patrons either sitting or standing in the restaurant. Rowen objected to the fact that with the Colony Dining Room and Holiday Inn closings, the town seems to be allowing excessive restaurant seats in its residential district.

At issue, is the town requires one parking space for every four restaurant seats. The Mar Vista is requesting to add 11 seats in an amended site plan for a total of 180 seats. What bothered many residents and Commissioner Jack Duncan is that the town code allows 14 existing boat slips to count for nearly one-third of the total parking required. The town also allows the bike rack to count as a parking space.

Town Planner Steve Schield said one of the conditions staff placed on any approval is the right for the town to review and rescind dining seats if parking becomes consistently problematic in the future.

Vice Mayor David Brenner suggested the owner could always valet park if necessary.

Duncan also grew concerned that the application included renovating the historic neighboring building into a dining and meeting area. Duncan asked what the total number of occupants could possibly be on the Mar Vista site, at a maximum. Schield concurred that up to 330 people could be allowed on the site, but the final determination would have to be made by the Fire Marshal. Parking to accommodate such a number would have to be found in the streets surrounding the restaurant.

Owner Ed Chiles took the podium to explain that although the building next to the Mar Vista that will be renovated to expand the dining operation is designated historic, he has the right to tear the whole building down under state law.

North end resident and Commissioner Pat Zunz said she did not have any issue with expanding the existing restaurant, but she thought that the renovation to the historic building would cause a lot of problems and she said she would not be in favor of that part of an application.

Commissioner Terry Gans remarked that parking requirements are never predicated on worst case scenarios.

Gans moved for approval of the Mar Vista application, and he, Commissioner Lynn Larson, Phill Younger, Vice Mayor David Brenner and Mayor Jim Brown all voted ‘yes’ in support. Commissioners Jack Duncan and Zunz voted down the request.

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8 Responses for “Mar Vista expansion creates complaints in historic Longboat Village”

  1. William Hayden says:

    So let me see if I understand this: if you don’t live in an affected neighborhood, you simply don’t care if that neighborhood is ruined. Let me guess, you didn’t donate a dime to the victims in Oklahoma because it didn’t happen in your neighborhood.

  2. William Kary says:

    Raheb must have a “crystal ball” to make a statement like the “NORTH END SUPPORTED IPOC.” He can offer no proof of the “claim”, yet makes it anyway. As for the use of the word “HANG”, that seems a bit “off the wall” in this country…

  3. Samir RAGHEB says:

    CHARLES JENNINGS IS IN ERROR, THE NORTH END SUPPORTED IPOC, IF WE DO NOT HANG TOGETHER WE WILL HANG ONE BY ONE

  4. Ross says:

    What happened today in Moore and Oklahoma City puts this whole “parking” issue in perspective of what really is important.
    Ross

  5. Georgie McFarland says:

    As long as it is not in my back yard.

  6. charles jennings says:

    It is refreshing to see that the people of the north end of the island adamantly opposing the business expansion of the Mar-Vista. They didn’t feel that way we in IPOC were opposing the Longboat Key Club’s expansion. The old saying ‘it depends on whose ox is being gored” is never more true

  7. Ghostrider says:

    I believe “quaint” just exited.

  8. Carol Kagi says:

    1. Valet parking would not solve the problem of too many cars on the street.
    2. There is a real safety concern here. Emergency vehicles would not be able to get to houses in the neighborhood on the side streets. It is already a problem when cars are parked everywhere during the busy hours.
    3. We already have a lot of activity on our streets because of people looking at the peacocks and many times I can’t get out of my driveway because they stop in the middle of the street to take pictures. I’ve almost been hit by cars several times on my walks and bike rides because they aren’t looking where they’re going. This would just bring more people into our neighborhood.
    4. Is tearing down the “historical” house a threat? The place is falling down on it’s own.
    5. When we voted for these commissioners in the last election we were looking for development for Whitney Beach and the old gas station and bank buildings, not our neighborhood.

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