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Neighbors riled about bar rising on old town hall site

The buyer tries to reassure residents that the lounge will be an asset and that he's not going to build a rock 'n' roll bar.

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 23, 2002


REDINGTON SHORES -- Just the possibility that a bar will be built on the site of the former Redington Shores Town Hall has neighbors hopping mad.

About a dozen people stormed the new Town Hall on Tuesday to loudly oppose a parking variance crucial to the sale of the property.

The stakes were high.

The variance was required for the $495,000 sale of the property to go through. But residents worried that traffic from the piano lounge would make the neighborhoods virtually unlivable.

"This reminds me of the old Volkswagen commercial where they stuffed 20 people into the car," said resident Patrick Daly. "The parking is going to be on all our side streets. If this ever is turned into a rock 'n' roll bar, this place is going to be like a kiddie zoo."

After the Board of Adjustment unanimously approved the variance, resident Michael Glick quickly filed a formal appeal, which will be considered by the Town Commission.

The Town Commission knew of the plans for a 2,500-square-foot restaurant and lounge with a piano bar and outside deck before it rezoned the property commercial and approved a $495,000 sales contract.

A petition with 20 signatures was presented to the board opposing not only the variance, but the sale of the property to anyone who would open a restaurant or bar. The 0.414-acre property at 17750-17798 Gulf Blvd. has 130 feet frontage on the major north-south beach road, with access from both 177th and 178th avenues.

The buyer, Brett Cobb, said access to the lounge would be from the side streets. He asked for two fewer parking spaces than the 38 required by the town's building code.

Cobb tried unsuccessfully to reassure residents that the lounge would be an asset.

"I'm 61 years old and that's the crowd I'm after. This is not going to be a rock 'n' roll bar. You're not going to have a problem," he said.

Lee Holmes, chairman of the Board of Adjustment, agreed with residents that parking could be a "real issue," but he voted for the variance.

"I appreciate it could become a big problem very quickly," said Holmes. "We have ordinances in place to protect you if they are enforced. We understand the problem of parking. It will be a problem."

Holmes said the final site plan must be approved by the town's Planning and Zoning Board. He told residents to direct questions about how the property was rezoned to the Town Commission.

The sale was authorized in a townwide referendum last year.

The appeal of the Board of Adjustment decision has not been scheduled for a Town Commission hearing. The commission's next regular meeting is at 7 p.m. July 9 at the new Town Hall.

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