No Surf Shack Bar

Mike Anderson won’t get the chance to ask the city commission for permission to add a bar to the Surf Shack. 

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the commission voted unanimously to not allow requests for deviation from the land development code in the Large Resort District (the west side of 46th Avenue up to 64th Avenue). 

The way the land development code and the city’s comprehensive plan read, if a property owner in the Large Resort District wants to use property for a commercial use such as a bar or restaurant, the property must have another permitted use. Permitted uses include hotels and motels and condominiums and apartments.

The Surf Shack does not have one of those uses. 

Community Development Director George Kinney says the property would essentially need a 200-room hotel for such a bar to exist.

“The idea behind this [the land development code] is they [the city] want to get properties aggregated and make sure we’re not going to deviate from that,” Mr. Kinney explained. “Obviously, if you keep allowing smaller non-related [uses], you’re just perpetuating what’s already there.”

The city’s comprehensive plan envisions this area as one with large resorts, and right now the city has no provision for people to ask the commission for changes to that plan. 

Mr. Anderson wanted the commission to create a way for people to ask for permission for those changes.

“All we are doing tonight is asking the commissioners to give you guys a way to hear from someone like myself in the future so you can say yes or no in a project such as the one I’m interested in doing,” Mr. Anderson said. “It certainly doesn’t mean I get to build anything anywhere… all this is doing is giving you the power to decide. It doesn’t mean anybody gets the right to build anything.”

Attorney Deborah Martohue presented a petition from residents opposed to the ordinance and spoke for over 10 minutes in opposition to allowing such requests. In response Steve Phalor asked for extra time to speak as well.

“I would ask that her seven minutes be stricken or I be given extended time to speak?” he asked. Mayor Steve McFarlin allowed that he would have some extra time to speak if needed.

“We want the comprehensive plan to prevail, that is the most important thing,” Mr. Phalor said. “The land development code is just the vehicle that gets us there. You never see every situation that might arise. You can’t make a good decision if you don’t have the right to make a decision.”

The commission told Mr. Anderson, who owns the Surf Shack, the time had come to stick to its comprehensive plan.

“There was so much time, money, energy spent to have a comprehensive plan that I’m concerned that what we do now is ‘we want to follow the comp plan or the land development code, but not now’ - and I think maybe that is the question I have about conditional use,” Commissioner Lorraine Huhn said.

Commissioner Bev Garnett pointed out that the commission wasn’t voting on approval of a specific project.

“My biggest concern was… we’ve got a few property owners in here, if we stick to this… as it’s written… and they’re destroyed [by a storm]… there’s nothing they can do. What I don’t want to see is these people held hostage [to where] there’s one person they can sell their property to,” Commissioner Garnett said. 

“I know we’ve made some changes already” Commissioner Jim Parent admitted, but added that “in this particular area, it’s been kind of a clear thing. I don’t want to give us the ability to chop it up.”

“We put a lot of years and a lot of time into a vision,” Mayor Steve McFarlin agreed. “If we don’t start today, what day are we going to start it?”