Is gridlock coming to Tarpon Bay Road?
To the editor:
The stakes are in place, and the regular patrons have been notified: Doc Ford’s is moving soon! As far as the developers are concerned, this is a fait accompli. One problem – a conditional use permit must be issued first, requiring approval of the Planning Commission and City Council. A list of many pre-conditions must be met, including compatibility with neighboring properties, intensity of use, minimal impact on traffic flow and benefit to the community, among others.
The parcel in question is a 2.64 acre commercial lot located on the west side of Tarpon Bay Road across from Bailey’s grocery store. At present, a medical center, championed by the late Sam Bailey himself, has been approved and is heartily welcomed by nearby residents on Sanibel Boulevard. The non-invasive 9 to 5 hours and limited traffic makes it far preferable to a late-night sports bar. A recent study commissioned by the City of Sanibel confirms the community’s wish for a medical facility, and indicates that most residents believe additional restaurant space on Sanibel is unnecessary.
This overdeveloped corner currently boasts two shopping centers, two gas stations, two restaurants – one with live music – two take-out restaurants, a movie theater, liquor store, hardware and grocery store. Common sense indicates that traffic will increase exponentially if this permit is issued, resulting in total gridlock. Peak off-island commuter traffic falls squarely within the happy-hour-to-dinner-hour time slot. Imagine adding hundreds of cars every afternoon and evening to an intersection that routinely backs up as far as the Sanibel School! Such intensive commercial use in one area will be both unsustainable and irreversible.
Doc Ford’s isn’t just any restaurant. This highly successful themed entertainment franchise is wildly popular with both visitors and residents. Once the rumored Doc Ford TV series airs, fans and tourists alike will overwhelm this venue. Everyone loves a success story, but the dramatically negative impacts caused by the location of this proposed development will change the very nature of our Sanctuary island forever. By contrast, Doc Ford’s current Sanibel location is ideal, with minimal negative impact on our residents and visitors.
Please consider the irrevocable consequences of this proposed conditional use permit, and contact the current members of the Planning Commission and the City Council to let them know your thoughts. Remember, just because something can happen doesn’t mean it should.
Molly Heuer and