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Commission OKs new patio for Sanibel Fish House

By Staff | Apr 29, 2019

TIFFANY REPECKI Roy Gibson, senior planner with the Sanibel Community Services Department, outlines the staff report and its findings on two applications submitted by the Sanibel Fish House for a new outdoor patio.

The Sanibel Planning Commission approved at its recent meeting two applications that allow the Sanibel Fish House to add a new outside patio with up to 26 seats for bonus outdoor seating.

On April 23, the commission voted 5-0 in support of the applications for a waiver and a development permit on the basis that the restaurant adhere to 29 conditions outlined in a report from city staffers.

Commissioner Matthew Kirchner abstained from the vote and discussion due to a conflict of interest – he was asked to pull a permit for the job – and Commissioner Paul Nichols had an excused absence.

Filed by attorney Terrence Lenick on behalf of the property owner, one application requested a waiver from the Land Development Code to allow the Sanibel Fish House to add the patio within the minimum required front yard setback and to allow it to remain in excess of the permitted developed area limit.

The second one sought a development permit to install the patio at 1523 Periwinkle Way.

Roy Gibson, senior planner with the city’s Community Services Department, outlined the staff report and its findings for the dais prior to the commissioners discussing and voting on the applications.

He noted that the restaurant is a lawfully existing non-conforming building and property.

“It does contain several existing non-conformances,” Gibson said, citing setbacks, parking, developed area limit and flood regulations. “These lawfully existing non-conformances are grandfathered in.”

He explained that the applicant must meet six standards for the commission to grant the waiver application, and if the waiver is approved, the restaurant cannot further its non-conformance.

Gibson continued that with the waiver application, the applicant is seeking waivers for two existing non-conformances – the front yard setback and the developed area limitation. He noted that the proposal will not move the building any closer to Periwinkle Way, in terms of setbacks, if approved.

“The property is overdeveloped currently,” Gibson said of the second non-conformance.

However, he continued, the restaurant intends to remove and restore areas covered with shells, installing new vegetation and landscaping, so the loss of area due to the patio will be made up for.

As for the development permit application to install the patio, Gibson explained that the city’s code allows for up to 15 percent of the permitted indoor seats to be allocated for outdoor seating. The restaurant is permitted for 200 seats; the proposal will reduce the indoor seats by 26 for an even swap.

“Their application proposes no increase in total seats,” he said.

Lenick reported that his client was OK with the 29 conditions outlined by staff in its report.

“We’re going to do all the vegetation things that they’ve required,” he said.

Lenick did raise concern over one condition, which calls for the removal of an existing bicycle rack. He explained that his client wants to keep it, but does not know where to put in and remain in compliance.

“We don’t know where she wants it relocated,” Lenick said, referring to a Natural Resources staffer.

Gibson explained that wherever it is located, it should not directly impact landscaping.

“I think there are alternative locations,” he said.

Following a brief discussion on the rack’s placement, along with questions by commissioners about the total number of seats and proposed additional vegetation, the dais voted to approve both applications.