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Commission OKs permit for cafe to serve all

By Staff | Aug 31, 2018

TIFFANY REPECKI The Sanibel Planning Commission voted to approve a conditional use permit that allows the Normandie Seaside Cafe at the West Wind Inn to serve non-guests of the resort.

The Sanibel Planning Commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit that allows the Normandie Seaside Cafe at the West Wind Inn to officially serve non-guests of the resort.

At its Aug. 28 meeting, the commission voted 7-0 in favor of an application for the permit, which revises a permit condition to allow the existing resort housing accessory restaurant to operate without a current restriction that is limiting its use exclusively to guests of the inn, at 3345 West Gulf Drive.

The application was submitted by Rene Affourtit, of West Wind Associates of Sanibel.

Roy Gibson, acting director for the planning department, explained that the 69-seat restaurant was originally approved subject to a set of specific conditions, one of which is that it is only to be used by paying guests of the inn. The application changes that one condition, allowing non-guests to use it.

“The West Wind Inn has previously requested to rescind or eliminate this condition,” he noted.

In 1995, the inn approached the city and the request was denied.

Gibson pointed out, however, that since the first request the inn has eliminated two tennis courts, making room for 27 additional parking spaces. The issue behind the original denial was planning and land development code requiring a certain number of spaces to accommodate a public restaurant.

A new parking demand analysis factors in the new spaces created by removing the courts.

“There would be 16 additional parking spaces to serve the restaurant,” he said. “Staff finds that there is adequate parking available for the resort to provide this restaurant to be open to serve the public.”

Gibson added that a traffic impact analysis found minimal impact.

“This is no concern or issue,” he said.

City staffers recommended seven conditions if the commission decided to approve the permit. One condition is that the poolside bar can only be used by guests of the inn to prohibit people from walking up from beach. Another one is the restaurant and dining aspects would be for sit-down service only.

During public comment, City Councilwoman Holly Smith recommended that staff clarify “sit-down service.” It prompted a discussion on if guests could still order food and pick it up or if they had to stay and eat. Staff explained that it simply meant the eatery could not add walk-up or drive-thru facilities.

The commission raised other questions before voting.

Vice Chair Dirk deWerff asked if the request to go public was unique for resort housing.

Gibson explained that others in the resort housing district have public eateries and that they were approved or grandfathered in with conditions. What makes the West Wind Inn’s request different is it was approved with conditions like the others, but is now asking for the removal of one condition.

The commissioner also questioned why the inn removed the tennis courts.

“Tennis goes up and down, and right now, there’s not that much demand,” Affourtit said.

Commissioner Richard Johnson asked if the inn had any previous parking or code violations.

“None and no complaints,” Gibson said.

He also questioned if the plan is to continue to use the property as it is now.

“That is correct,” Affourtit said.

Chair Philip Marks complimented the changes made to the property, specifically the drainage.

“It’s doing a beautiful job,” he said. “Even though the site is 50 years old, you’ve made improvements to it.”

“It’s no secret – I’ve said it before. I’ve been there many times,” Marks added of himself and other non-guests who enjoy the eatery. “I think you guys have just decided to make it aboveboard.”

The commission approved the permit, with the clarification on “sit-down service.”

Also at the meeting, the commission reviewed and discussed the Historical Preservation Committee’s recommendations to city council on the criteria and procedures for recognizing historical people.

“This is a matter city council addressed last year,” Gibson, who also serves as the planning department’s liaison to the Historical Preservation Committee, told the commission.

It stemmed from a request to rename a local street after an island family.

A policy setting up criteria and procedures was drafted, then approved in March by the committee.

“You’ll see that they developed two parts to this,” Gibson said.

After going over the processes being recommended to city council, the dais spoke up.

“I’m concerned about the full investigation of the streets that are about to be renamed,” Commissioner Karen Storjohann said, citing an instance when a street turned out to already be historically named.

“There are also costs involved for changing the name of a street,” she said.

For example, businesses on the renamed road that would be affected.

“I don’t think the draft policy addresses these,” she said. “I don’t see much of that in here.”

Gibson explained that staff would review the information and materials provided by an applicant for any renaming. He noted that it would have to sufficiently address the criteria outlined in the policy.

“On a case-by-case basis, we’ll be reviewing,” Gibson said.

Storjohann responded that she would like to see the language a bit stronger then.

Commissioner Chuck Ketteman questioned using a dual renaming system like other municipalities.

Gibson explained that staff looked into it, but decided the recommended policy was best.

Following the lengthy back-and-forth discussion, the commission moved to recommended that the Historical Preservation Committee look into the concerns raised and have it brought back again.

“I don’t think we have settled this manner today at all,” Marks said.


– The commission approved a resolution that grants approval of an application for a variance to allow for the installation of a new boat lift at a residence at 605 Lighthouse Way to extend waterward of a proposed new dock, farther than the maximum permitted waterward extension limit as measured from the approximate mean high water line of the abutting canal.

– The commission approved for a resident at 1757 Venus Drive an application for a variance to allow for the installation of a new dock and boat lift to extend farther than the maximum permitted waterward extension limit as measured from the approximate mean high water line of the abutting canal to replace an existing dock and boat lift.