Sanibel Planning Commission Tuesday approved an application for bonus outdoor dining at Rosie's Cafe & Grill restaurant at 2330 Palm Ridge Road.
Commissioners made a special point that the Palm Ridge Place Shopping Center does not conform to city standards for the minimum number of required off-street parking spaces and generally is not being well maintained by the center's owner, First Cooke Properties Florida.
"This center is at the heart of the redevelopment discussions we will be talking about over the next several months," noted Commissioner John Talmage. "It is an issue for proper parking and appearance."
Rosie's Cafe & Grill in the Palm Ridge Place Shopping Center applied to the Sanibel Planning Commission to add 16 outdoor seats at the restaurant.
Commissioners generally were unwilling to hold applicant Joanne Fitzgerald accountable for bringing the parking space issue back to the 132 spaces when the center expanded in 1983. The current code would require 137 spaces, but only about 120 can be readily identified as of this week. Many of the parking space loss is due to overgrown vegetation and "debris."
Staff informed commissioners that there are no known parking issues with the center or outstanding violations filed and that some vegetation overgrowth has been removed, but not enough.
Two neighbors from the Lake Palms Condo Association spoke at the hearing, voicing objection to the application on the grounds of additional noise levels expected with 16 new dining seats at Rosie's, parking overflow and ongoing dumpster overflow issues.
"We already have to deal with parking overflow from Big Arts and the Farmer's Market," said Michael Hannan, president of the condo association. "This is just another attack on our neighborhood."
Commissioner Phil Marks also made note of the dumpster and appearance issues with the center.
"I visited the place and made some observations," said Marks, who was the only member to vote against approving the application. "There is a lot of dust associated with that lot for outdoor seating. It's probably the dustiest on the island. Anyone who sits there outside probably won't do it again. The rear of the building looks like a salvage area with tires, stove parts, trash overflowing the dumpster attracting flies and racoons or whatever. It's very disappointing to see those conditions from the aspect of safety. And the grease trap container is leaking on the ground."
When Commission Chair Michael Valiquette moved to approved the application, one of the 23 conditions dealing with upgrading parking was dropped and another condition dealing with debris and litter removal was amended to cover a proper size dumpster with a closeable lid and resolving the grease trap container.
Applicants are required to return to the commission in two years to make sure conditions are being met and maintained.
Valiquette assured the neighbors that their pleas are being heard and should be addressed in the upcoming commercial zone redevelopment debate.
"You live in proximity to commercial property, so there will be traffic and parking and noise issues," Valiquette said. "Improving buffers will be an element of the redevelopment discussions."
Four commissioners voted for approval with Marks voting no and Chris Heidrick abstaining. Commissioner Tom Krekel was absent.
The application comes back before commissioners for final approval at the April 9 meeting.
The commission's second permit hearing flew through the discussion and comment process. It was an application to raise and already elevated pool to comply with the new FEMA flood zone maps for the Gulf Ridge East area.
The residence of Giuseppe and Roxinne Galletto-Savoretti, built in 1984, was recently raised to conform to the new requirements. The raising of the pool, staff reported, meets all new standards including landscaping requirements and screen enclosure.
The permit was approved unanimously with Heidrick again abstaining because of a business association.