TREASURE ISLAND — What seemed like an easy conditional use request to authorize a temporary parking area for bar and restaurant employees at 9701 1st Street E became a balancing act for city commissioners who wanted to address concerns of residents while meeting the needs of area eateries.
A staff report compiled by Community Development Director Kathy Gademer noted that over that past several years, the tract — technically four vacant parcels that are now an unpaved grass field — has been used as a temporary parking lot. “Numerous complaints regarding storage of boats, trailers, excessive parking, and noise came from and currently come from adjacent neighbors,” Gademer said.
The area where Gulf Boulevard curves north at Sunset Beach is home to several bars and restaurants, including Sea Dog Brewing Co., Taco Bus, and Caddy’s Treasure Island.
The parking lot property owner, First Street Treasure Island Parking, first approached the city in October of 2016, submitting a special exception use application to allow the construction of a parking lot located on the four parcels. The application was later withdrawn, and a parcel immediately to the south was developed to serve beachgoers and anyone who wants to pay to park.
The staff report said the proposed new parking lot is not in conflict with the goals, objectives and policies of the city’s comprehensive plan. “A temporary parking lot will serve the employees of the nearby bars and restaurants,” the city’s Planning Department concluded in its report.
The site plan provided by the applicant shows the construction of 44 parking spaces and two ADA spaces. Vehicles will enter and exit using 1st Street E and Harrel Avenue. Stop signs are located at each end of the easements.
Gademer said city staff recommends approval of special exception use to allow a temporary parking lot to be approved, with conditions that include the parking lot is only to be used for employees of restaurant and bars within 1,300 linear feet of the temporary lot.
She told commissioners other conditions that have to be met, including that two waste receptacles must be present and maintained on site at all times, one stop sign shall be installed at each exit, two “Authorized Employee Parking Only” signs shall be installed, and two ADA parking spaces, with one being van-accessible, must be marked.
In addition, no lighting shall be installed. Gademer said there are four light poles in the general area, so there is plenty of light spilling onto the lot. Hours of operation are limited to Monday through Sunday 5 a.m. to 1 a.m.
The applicant is installing a 6-foot privacy fence along the property line shared by residences.
Istvan Peteranecz, principal architect with Behar Peteranecz representing the developer, told commissioners “we’ve worked with the city hand in hand” on the project.
While the property owner asked for a one-year conditional use, city commissioners ultimately decided to revisit whether conditions are being met in six months, due to the number of complaints voiced by nearby residents, including failure to clean trash from the site, illegal storage of boats and trailers on site, and a restroom on an adjacent parcel that was not in working order.
Commissioner Beth Wetzel said she favored conditional use approval for 90 days, citing the complaints.
“I feel we should make sure they are in compliance,” she said. “We have very involved neighbors here who have a very vested interest in how this goes,” so a 90-day check should be “seriously considered.”
Commissioners Deborah Toth, John Doctor and Saleene Partridge also favored a 90-day conditional use, with Partridge citing the restroom issue.
Mayor Tyler Payne suggested giving the property owner six months, rather than 90 days, to prove the parking lot will adhere to its conditions. “I think some of the concerns were alleviated slightly with the new conditions that they put in ... I just worry if we put too many restrictions it’s not going to be economically viable for him,” Payne said.
The mayor noted that the applicant expressed concerns that 90 days “is a little bit too small of a window to be able to commit to spending all this money to improve the property, so that’s my only concern.”
Commissioners unanimously approved a conditional use for a parking lot to be revisited in 6 months, after which it could be extended another six months.