ANNA MARIA – Commissioners were amenable to three requests from Lizzie Vann and Mike Thrasher, of the Historic Green Village on Pine Avenue.
The first was to make Thelma by the Sea a bed and breakfast, the second was to serve beer and wine at evening events at the Village Cafe at Rosedale and the third was to hold a farmer's market at the Village.
Vann Thrasher told the board that she is waiting for a permit to build a foundation for Thelma and begin renovations. Thelma, a former lodging establishment, was moved to the Village in May from its home of nearly 100 years on North Bay Boulevard.
"We had some plans drawn up which show the second floor divided into three bedrooms and a reception area," Vann Thrasher explained. "The breakfast would be taken at the cafe. The ground floor would be commercial space."
She asked if commissioners felt that would be a desirable use for the building, and planner Alan Garrett pointed out that a bed and breakfast is not a permitted use in the residential/office/retail (ROR) district on Pine Avenue.
"Either a single family residence or an upper story residential unit above and office or retail is what the code allows," Garrett said.
Commissioner John Quam asked City Attorney Jim Dye if any change would affect the entire ROR district and Dye said it would. Quam said he is concerned that changing the code would allow hotels.
"If the commission decides to amend the code, you would have full authority to add definitions or controls to address concerns," Dye responded.
Chairman Chuck Webb asked if the city could provide a special exception section to the code.
"You could amend the code to allow a bed and breakfast as a special use with site plan approval or whatever approval process you create," Dye said.
Mayor Mike Selby asked if it would require more parking spaces. Garrett said one more would be needed.
"It was that type of a structure for many years," Commissioner Gene Aubry noted. "What it is contributing to this city is very important. It's an ideal use for it. Let's investigate this and work with Alan. I think it should be done."
Webb said he has no problem looking into it, but is concerned about the effects on the ROR district.
Commissioner Dale Woodland brought down the house with his remark, "Other than a whore house, it's the perfect use for it," but he said he felt that commissioners should get input from the community and then discuss it again.
Commissioners asked Garrett to work with the Thatchers to develop standards and criteria for a code change and bring it back to them to discuss at their next meeting.
Woodland said it might require a change to the comprehensive plan, but Garrett said it depends on how they define bed and breakfast.
Alcohol at the café
Thrasher said she's had requests from local residents for evening events at the café such as lectures, demonstrations and game and music nights, but people also want beer and wine.
"Can we dispense it some way?" Vann Thrasher asked.
"Our definition says sell or dispense," Garrett explained. "If that is the case, they cannot be within 2,500 feet of a church or another establishment that sells alcohol.
"We know they are, but there is an exception to that if you are a full restaurant, and the restaurant must be open and serving at all times that beer or wine is sold or dispensed."
Vann Thrasher said the café would be open any time there is an event.
Woodland asked how the café could qualify for the exception. Garrett said it would have to serve full course meals including a salad or vegetable, entrée, beverage and bread.
Woodland said the situation arose with the former Tropical Treats restaurant, and owners added one menu item in order to qualify for the exception.
Quam asked what ratio of food is required for the exception and Garrett said 60 percent. Vann Thrasher said hers would be 95 percent. Webb advised Vann Thrasher to "craft what you do to what the code says."
The third request was to hold a regular farmer's market at the Village, either in the parking lot or on the café deck, during certain months. Vann Thrasher said the issues are rest rooms and parking, and she has 40 parking spaces and outside public restrooms.
"Would it be encouraged or discouraged?' she asked.
Garrett said it would require a special event permit, and the city could issue a blanket one for every Saturday in certain months or amend the code.
Aubry said it is no different from the flea markets held in the vacant lot across from Ginny and Jane E's.
Webb said he has no problem with it and advised Garrett to issue to proceed with the blanket permit if it is not prohibited by the code.