Opposition mounts as Lido Pool/Pavilion plan vote looms Monday in Sarasota City Hall

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The opposition to the Lido Beach Pool & Pavilion plan continues to mount with more than 5,000 signing a petition opposed to the City allowing the public beach site be transformed into a bar and restaurant.

The Sarasota City Commission is slated to vote on Jan. 14 at a 1 p.m. meeting on whether a plan to allow a waterfront restaurant, tiki bar, rental cabanas and event area is compatible with the existing beach and the surrounding residential communities.

Numerous business owners, thousands of residents and even area architects have decried the plan and have implored the City to simply renovate the existing facility and not expand the commercial footprint and activities at the site.

The vote is the last hurdle for applicants Gavin Meshad and Troy Syprett who own the Daiquiri Deck restaurant and need the approval of what is called a Major Conditional Use in City zoning code.

The City approved a lease to allow the duo to renovate the dilapidated pavilion last spring and to allow the additional expansion of uses.

The City Planning Board, which serves in a specific capacity to advise the commission on Land Use and Development matters, voted 4-1 recommending that the commission deny the proposal last September.

The Major Conditional Use approval is the city’s mechanism in its Zoning Code to determine if the bar, restaurant, event lawn, and hard liquor environment along with the live music acts are compatible with the neighboring residentially-zoned properties that surround the beach.

One of the other issues was the consensus on the Planning Board that the expansion in commercial activity into a waterfront restaurant and bar from simply a concession stand, which exists today, would compete and on some levels usurp the primary use, which is the beach.

The existing concession stand closes at 4:30 p.m. and only serves beer and wine, which is a grandfathered use. It is typical accessory to beaches that can be found nationwide.

One issue for the Planning Board that impacts the neighborhood and may not sit well with the City Commissioners is that the applicant has not performed an actual traffic study or analysis but only a “concurrency” study.

The proposed tiki bar will be situated directly in the path to the beach from the parking lot. That roiled families and beachgoers who do not want to have their children or walk by a bar surrounded by patrons drinking hard liquor on their way to the public beach. Other residents do not want their children to have to walk past the bar in order to use the public restrooms.

Another issue is conformance with the City’s Comprehensive Plan. One of the requirements is that non-conforming uses, such as the sale of liquor not be expanded. The proposal to expand restaurant operations at a bar and allow poolside drinking has been cited as a major expansion of non-conforming uses and not in compliance with the City’s own regulations.

The contract that was approved is not part of the consideration on Jan. 14. It is only the Major Conditional Use and if the city commission votes ‘No’ the restaurant plan will not continue. In that scenario, the city has in its Parks Budget, $1.4 million earmarked to renovate the restrooms and improve the facility.

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