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Jacksonville City Planning Commission votes against new 'breastaurant'

12:15 AM, Nov 15, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- An adult-themed business was unanimously voted against during a City County Planning Commission meeting Thursday evening.

Right now, an old Burger King is sitting vacant in the 8600 block of Baymeadows Road between Philips Highway and Interstate 95.

Thursday evening, the Jacksonville Planning Commission held a meeting to consider a plan that would turn the vacant space into a bikini bar, which many considered a family-friendly area.

The planning commission opened the topic at about 7:30 p.m. and heard comments from about 60 people, all of whom were opposed.

Some commenters were not able to stay and address the commission, as some were there when the meeting started at 1 p.m., but their comment cards were put into the record.

Tony Robinson of the Planning Commission said he hasn't seen anything like that in his four years.

Karl Sanders, Esq. is a Jacksonville attorney who filed the plans on behalf of the potentially new owner, according to city documents.

Sanders did not return a phone call and message First Coast News placed in an attempt to get comment. The person behind the idea also did not get back to us.

But the documents argued the bar would " ... fit in with the area and offer a range of employment."

Julie Shuttlesworth, who was commenting on behalf of Deermeadows Baptist Church, said her church collected over 600 signatures opposing the bar.

"We have an obligation to young women in Jacksonville to provide safe career opportunities," she told the Commission tearfully.

Sanders also argues in the documents that the bikini bar wouldn't "...have a detrimental effect on the future development of the surrounding commercial and residential area."

The city has already granted the proposed business the chance to serve alcohol. But, Sanders tried to receive a special zoning exception for his client.

The exception would declare the bar as a "dancing entertainment establishment."

According to city code, that means employees could serve alcohol, but could not be naked. Instead, they could wear in swimwear.

It differs from an "adult entertainment establishment," which the city says " ... have all nude entertainment and cannot serve alcohol."

 

Documents show staff believe the bikini bar could hurt property values on the south side and lead to more crime like prostitution.

They also argue the "... commercial, residential, service related, churches and school uses present along Baymeadows Road would be negatively affected."

Concerns over added "...noise and physical activities not consistent with the character and existing family-oriented development" are also spelled out by city staff.

Danny Becton, who unsuccessfully ran for city council, represents the Baymeadows Community Council.

He told First Coast News before the decision was made that the council has delivered hundreds of letters to the city, urging it not to support the bikini bar at the Baymeadows location.

When asked where that kind of establishment should go, he did not offer a specific location.

"It's their (the city) decision to be made, not mine to say where it should go. All I know is this location in this instance is not right for the Baymeadows area," Becton said.

Much like city staff, Becton said people are concerned about the impact on property values, increased crime and what he describes as family-oriented atmosphere.

Becton said the Baymeadows corridor has gone through a resurgence in redevelopment after taking a hit during the recession. So, the last thing he said he wants to see is a business drive people away.

Nancy Dreicer, CEO of Chappell Schools located on Baycenter Road, was one of the 60 who spoke in opposition of the bikini bar.

She said the Commission "showed unbelievable commitment" and made the absolute right decision.

All the people who came to speak out against the proposed bar "was such a show of unity," Dryser said.

First Coast News

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