Coffee shop zoning creates concern, appeal filed by neighbors

Coffee shop zoning creates concern, appeal filed by neighbors
An abandoned house to the right of Bold Bean and Turner Plumbing could be razed for parking if LC Turner LLC would agree to do so.

Concerns about adequate and safe parking for Bold Bean Coffee Roasters’ customers have prompted a nearby San Marco law firm and a church to file an appeal against a Planning Commission decision.

Robert Harris Trust, located at 1837 Hendricks to the left of Bold Bean, and Southside Baptist Church, located across Hendricks Avenue from Bold Bean, both have safety concerns now that Bold Bean has applied for and received an exception to offer outdoor sales and service, which includes beer and wine.

Despite the recommendation from the City’s Planning and Development Department to approve Bold Bean’s application as long as certain conditions were met, including adding two more parking spaces, bicycle parking, and bringing landscaping up to code, the Planning Commission approved the application during its Sept. 27 meeting with no conditions required.

The approval allows Bold Bean to add outdoor seating for patrons to purchase food and beverages and take them outside to consume.

In response, Robert Harris Trust and Southside Baptist Church have appealed the approval, and a de novo (new) hearing before the Land Use and Zoning Committee in the City Council Chambers is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, at 5 p.m.

The restaurant is across the street from Southside Baptist Church and, although within the minimum distance requirement of 500 feet from Julia Landon College Preparatory and Leadership Development School, a license to sell and serve beer and wine at a restaurant does not need a waiver of minimum distance from a church or school, according to Tia Ford, City spokesperson.

While the church originally agreed to an informal arrangement allowing Bold Bean customers to use its parking lot, it retracted that agreement as concerns for the safety of pedestrians increased with the growth of Bold Bean’s business and the addition of alcohol sales, in particular. Currently, Bold Bean patrons are not allowed to use either the church or Harris’ parking lots.

“I have personally seen several close calls as people attempted to cross in the middle of the block as they leave Bold Bean to return to their cars in our parking lot,” Gary Lee Webber, pastor of Southside Baptist Church, said.

Harris is concerned about the restaurant’s lack of adequate parking, especially without the availability of the church’s parking lot. Bold Bean’s patrons already use his parking lot, which displaces his own staff and clients. He has had to put up signs on each of his parking spaces, warning they are for clients and staff of his building only and all others’ vehicles will be immediately towed. Harris sees other safety issues related to lack of adequate parking as well.

When Jay Burnett, co-owner of Bold Bean with his son, Zack Burnett, met with Robert Harris a year and a half ago to let Harris know that he planned to open a coffee shop in the building beside him, Harris expressed concern about spillover parking by Bold Bean patrons into his own parking lot.

Harris is also concerned about the parking areas that Bold Bean created to meet the number of spaces that restaurants are required to offer based on number of tabletops and staff.

“To get the amount of parking required, Bold Bean created tight, angled park behind its building that is so close to the back of the building patrons can’t turn around easily. They often back out onto Hendricks Avenue, which is a safety issue,” Harris said.

He is also worried tight parking means delivery trucks park in front of the building, blocking the bike lane and part of the driving lane closest to the building or blocking the turn lane.

“Sometimes they even park in the middle of my parking lot blocking access to our parking spaces so they can unload and deliver products around my fence to Bold Bean,” Harris said.

Zack Burnett disagrees with Harris on all points.

“Legally, we do not have a lack of adequate parking,” he said. “The city was actively involved in the planning and development prior to our opening, and we received our certificate of occupancy in accordance with all code requirements.”

Burnett said Southside Baptist has long been a great neighbor to many businesses in San Marco.

“We would bend over backwards to ensure [the church] is confident and secure that we are an equally good neighbor,” he said.

“We continue to believe…the safest and best solution is for the property owners to remove the abandoned house next to the property and replace it with a parking lot on the east side of Hendricks Avenue,” Webber said. Harris agrees, but Carla Turner, property owner where Bold Bean and Turner Plumbing are located, has another viewpoint.

“Turner Plumbing is a fourth generation family business and has been a San Marco business owner since 1942,” said Turner. “Because of our history, the integrity of San Marco is a high priority for us. As [the abandoned house] is one of the last remaining historic homes dating back to the 1920s on the Hendricks commercial corridor, we are carefully considering all of our options.”

Burnett, however, has another idea. “At our request, the Florida Department of Transportation is currently conducting a study on the need for a mid-block pedestrian crosswalk,” he said.

When asked about such a survey in her district, Councilwoman Lori Boyer said, “I have no personal knowledge of any attempt to install a crosswalk across Hendricks at San Marco Place.

“There was no crosswalk at this location in the City budget we passed in September, but I have no objection to a crosswalk in this location,” she said.

Harris, who is also president of the San Marco Merchants Association, finds himself in an awkward position. “I feel like I’m being made out to be the bad guy,” he said. “All I want is for Bold Bean to be held to the same approval process and codes other merchants in San Marco are.”

“There have been discussions for years at the San Marco Merchants Association meetings about parking solutions, such as the use of joint valet services and the concept of a jointly funded lot,” Boyer said. “There was a plan to conduct a parking study and also a design to stripe alley spaces and resurface alleys, but for one reason or another, each approach has encountered obstacles that seem to stop progress.”

Boyer acknowledged the lot owned by the Southside Baptist church behind the fire station has provided adequate parking for many years, but as retail uses shift toward restaurants the demand for parking has also shifted.

She will be sitting in a “quasi-judicial” capacity on the Land Use and Zoning Committee that will decide Harris Trust’s and Southside Baptist Church’s appeals.

“I cannot offer an opinion on the subject of the appeal. I will wait to hear the evidence before I offer an opinion,” Boyer said. “I would be happy to discuss options and solution upon the conclusion of the appeal.”

By Karen Rieley
Resident Community News

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