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Rockhouse decision delayed by board
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TREASURE ISLAND – Members of the city’s Planning and Zoning Board postponed a decision on a special exception request for the proposed Rockhouse Grill and Cabanas at a May 19 meeting.

Board chairman Christopher Sierra made the decision because Treasure Island officials had not had time to process the results of recent environmental and traffic studies.

Sierra said the board would be dependent upon the city staff recommendation, pending its interpretation of the studies. The board meets again on June 16.

Rice Family Holdings LLLP is seeking to expand Gators Café and Saloon across Gulf Boulevard onto a 1.2-acre site it owns. The special exception is for a proposed beachfront restaurant, grill and bar.

Sierra continued the meeting by accepting public comments on the proposal and a presentation of revised plans by architect Jack Bodziak.

After Sunshine Beach residents complained last month about on-site parking and the traffic problems it might cause on Gulf Boulevard, Bodziak redesigned the plans to eliminate public parking on the site.

In its place is a small area for delivery vehicles and handicapped parking. There also is parking for golf carts, which will be used to transport patrons from a remote parking on the east side of Gulf Boulevard under the John’s Pass Bridge to the Rockhouse site.

“We’re still working toward the best interests of all,” said Sid Rice, owner of Gators. “We’re replying to all requests, especially safety issues.”

The $15 million project includes $500,000 in upgrades to the current Gators location, in addition to the marina and other surrounding areas. Bodziak said the renovations to Gators would result in additional outdoor seating like that of Bahama Breeze, a popular tropical restaurant on the Courtney Campbell Causeway in Tampa.

“This is a very well-thought out solution and takes into effect a lot of your comments and thoughts,” Bodziak said.

“There are a lot of positive things about this project,” said Dominique Reiter, former executive director of the Treasure Island Chamber of Commerce. “Every objection that has been brought up has been addressed by the developer. We have somebody willing to put $15 million into our town and the city will see additional tax revenue, which will provide additional services for our residents.”

Those opposed to the proposal included Sue Keller of Sunshine Lane.

“Why are we allowing a smoke and mirrors presentation? We’re talking a special exception on a small parcel,” Keller said. “The solution is not to park across the street. There will be 450 spaces there. Is our small beach big enough for all these extra people?”

Sharon McLendon, who also lives on Sunshine Lane, expressed concerns about the project affecting residential property values in the area.
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