BELLEAIR BLUFFS -- A possible obstacle has been thrown in the path of the planned restaurant Frank Chevas wants to put in Belleair Bluffs.
David Valentine, managing partner of the Bonefish restaurant, which will be just a few yards from what Chevas plans, showed up at Monday's City Commission workshop meeting to point out parking problems in the shopping area where the new restaurant is planned.
Chevas, who operates the Salt Rock Inn and the Island Way Grill, both very successful and popular restaurants, plans a restaurant where Michael's Drug Store has been located for years.
Chevas outlined his plan to the Bluffs commission last month.
Much of the parking in the shopping center is presently shared. Valentine said that his restaurant has an agreement with AmSouth Bank to share parking, with Bonefish patrons occupying spaces in the evening after the bank is closed.
Chevas claims a similar arrangement in sharing parking with other entities in the shopping center.
However, a representative of AmSouth Bank said that the agreement with Bonefish is not exclusive and can be terminated by either party at will.
In short, Valentine said that what Chevas plans will not have enough parking spaces. The Chevas restaurant will begin as a 100-seat establishment, but Valentine pointed out that there is space enough for 150 seats and there would probably be an expansion.
At 150 seats, 75 parking spaces would be required, he said, and there aren't that many. He said there are 55 spaces in the whole area.
"This is a highly complicated issue," Mayor Chris Arbutine said. He said that no decision would be made Monday. Arbutine said that he had spoken with Dave Healey of the Pinellas Planning Commission and PPC input would be instrumental in the planning for Chevas's restaurant.
Brought up briefly at Monday's meeting was the proposal to make mayor and commissioner terms three years instead of the present two.
Arbutine said it was mentioned as an "interest indicator" and that a referendum would have to take place if there was a move in that direction. The subject will get further discussion.
Then, as John Hubbard, the city attorney, was going over the language in some updated city ordinances, a scuffle over legal language broke out over whether the mayor and commissioners received "compensation" of "expense allowances."
The city charter seems to refer to compensation and further says that any increase in same cannot take place until after the next election and those elected will benefit.
The intent of the commission is to have all the elected officials receive the extra money -- from $300 to $500 for the mayor and from $200 to $400 for commissioners -- after the March election, which albeit uncontested is still an election.
Hubbard said he will make appropriate language changes.
The whole hullabaloo came up last month with a contention about what the U.S. Constitution says about increasing salaries of members of Congress, a notion completely irrelevant to Belleair Bluffs.
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