A popular dining establishment at 340 Old San Carlos Blvd. has been allowed to expand its outdoor seating with alcohol rights into a Town of Fort Myers Beach right-of-way area.
Smokin' Oyster Brewery was unanimously approved a special exception by the FMB Town Council in the Beach's downtown zoning district with consumption on premises privileges on Old San Carlos Boulevard and Third Street. Eight conditions of approval were instituted.
The action allows the restaurant with a full service bar and liquor license to add 24 seats under a yet-to-be constructed covered porch area/ deck extension blanketing 364 square feet on the side of its building as well as an additional 20 seats encompassing 768 square feet on the entire paver sidewalk area that fronts the building.
SOB has been approved to serve on outdoor tables along San Carlos Boulevard and Third Street.
SOB, which currently has 89 seats within its boundaries, will now need to apply for a lease of Town ROW before adding tables or construction. Owner Bill Freeman was happy with the result.
"I think it was very fair and it was discussed fully," he said. "To me, everything that we asked for is in the benefit of the downtown area. We look forward to going ahead and moving forward with this."
In her presentation, Town Planning Coordinator Leslee Chapman stated the exception requests were consistent with the Town's comprehensive plan and met the performance and locational standards set forth in the specific Town documents.
The seven approved conditions involve limited usage to the areas discussed only, a restriction of hours of alcohol consumption for the Old San Carlos Boulevard sidewalk area (10 a.m. to midnight), a lease agreement with the Town to be renewed annually, conditional uses on the Town ROW, permitting requirements for construction and a minimum clear pathway (5 feet in width) for pedestrian traffic. No entertainment will be allowed in the "outdoor" area.
"The subject property goes almost immediately to the full property line on all four sides, so the lot is almost completely consumed by the building on the subject property," said Chapman. "That is part of the reason for the request to extend into the Town right-of-way."
A request for a waiver for no parking requirements with the additional table spaces was approved as well. Chapman stated there have been changing conditions for the diowntown area.
"The changing conditions that exist are quite positive. They are continuing to grow and expand, and we have businesses that are willing to take advantage of that," she said. "The applicant's request is consistent with the policy that we have in the comprehensive plan that encourages a vibrant core area."
Beach resident Ed Scott pointed out a potential "bottleneck" situation on the turn from Old San Carlos Boulevard to Third Street may lie when the deck is extended onto the gravel area that is adjacent to Third Street.
Town staff believes a seating area will be less obtrusive than cars parked at the site due to back-up parking situations.
"Back-up parking causes the turning radius of those vehicles to be a little bit wider than it really should be," said Town Community Development Director Walter Fluegel. "By eliminating those first few back-up parking spaces, it may actually improve that condition."
"I think it will also ease the line of site issue," added Town Manager Terry Stewart.
SOB officials may wait until after tourism season to begin construction of the covered porch area/ deck extension, but may begin table placement on the Old San Carlos Boulevard ROW once Town issues a lease for such usage.