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Fine dining coming to Village Shops

By Staff | Dec 16, 2015

A new 50-seat fine dining restaurant as the approval to be added into the Village Shops, located at 2340 Periwinkle Way. BRIAN WIERIMA

The Sanibel Planning Commission heard a revised plan by RLR Investments (otherwise known as Royal Shell) for a conditional use permit for a new 50-seat fine-dining restaurant to be located inside the Village Shops center, located at 2340 Periwinkle Way.

After the first hearing held in November resulted in some concerns by the Planning Commission, a continuance was granted for the Tuesday, Dec. 8, meeting, where a conditional use permit was eventually passed after continued discussion.

The concerns resulting from the November meeting were satisfied by RLR, which included renovating a new shop area for Watson MacRae Gallery, which will be moved from its original area, because that’s where the restaurant will be located.

After two meetings with RLR, owner Maureen Watson was satisfied with the improvements she was offered to move to the new area.

“RLR was accommodating in our two meetings with them,” Watson said. “The accommodations will keep the gallery as a viable entity. I am in favor of a restaurant moving into the Village Shops, because it will increase traffic to the shops.”

The Sanibel Planning Department did attach 14 conditions for RLR to meet, which were agreed upon, as well as a 15th condition, which addresses the residential condo which is attached to the commercially used shops.

One of the conditions states the restaurant has to close at 9 p.m. or not accept any new customers after that time.

Parking is also a condition, in that if in the future, parking needs to be increased, RLR will be responsible to address that problem. One option which was offered in November, was to raise the back buildings, which would create up to 33 more parking spots underneath those facilities.

Another concern was raised by the owner of the residential condo, Carol Simcoe, who has the unit up for sale currently.

“There are two parking spots which are located right in front of the condo which have not been assigned to me and I ask that those two spots be reserved for the residents of the condo,” Simcoe said. “I am not asking for special treatment, I am asking for fair treatment.”

RLR Property Manager Lisa Bramm said something potentially could be worked out about the two parking spaces for the condo.

“It’s not out of the question,” Bramm said.

But Planning Commission Chair Philip Marks said the Commission does not have the authority to set that, and hoped it could be worked out reasonably between the two parties.

The private residence condo also cannot be turned into commercial space, because Village Shops already has maxed out its space limit for commercial use.

The issue of sound was also solved, with the building of a system of sound-proof walls to help insulate the sound from the condo.

Special filters which would also help eliminate odor emanating from the restaurant solved the concerns of smells affecting the private residents, as well.

In the November meeting, Bramm said construction of the restaurant won’t begin until the busy season is over. A liquor license will be sought, as well, and a vendor as of yet, has not been committed to.

The restaurant would also have its own restrooms, as well as the public restrooms which are already present on site.

A consideration of the architectural standards draft ordinance was passed by the Commission by a 5-1 vote. The Commission will first take in account changes to the ordinance by the “architect community,” before sending the consideration of an ordinance to the City Council, which will have to go through two readings and public comment, before passing or rejecting or sending it back to the Planning Commission.

The architectural standards draft ordinance has been worked on for the last year and a half. Concerns over the potential draft were raised during the Dec. 8 meeting by Mark Anderson, who is a general contractor on Sanibel and a Chamber of Commerce Chairman, about cost issues with it.

The history of the ordinance started in Oct. 13, 2015, when it considered potential amendments to the Land Development Coed’s to establish new mandatory architectural design standards for the new construction and redevelopment of building and structures on properties zoned for either multifamily, resort or commercial use.

Sanibel resident Larry Schopp said during public comment that the standards should be passed to preserve what Sanibel has worked on since its inception to become.

“If we don’t adapt these standards, someone off island will build from our (current) standards and we will be at their mercy,” Schopp said. “These standards are worth adopting.”

City Attorney Ken Cuyler added the City Council can change the ordinance and if there are drastic changes needed, could come back to the Planning Commission.

“It may not be a perfect package, but there are still checks and balances which are in place,” Marks said. “The City Council can refine it or send it back to us.”

It was approved to take some feedback from the “architect community” on the standards, and if some changes needed to be made, it will be brought back to the Planning Commission.

If no changes are made, the proposed ordinance will move to the City Council.