Gilligan’s desire for later music denied by county

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Despite unanimous planning support, commissioners say no … twice

By John Morton

It was quite an about-face for Gilligan’s Island Bar & Grill, supported unanimously by planners one day, but denied by a 4-1 vote by commissioners the next.
The business was seeking a special exception for live indoor and outdoor music to play as late as 2 a.m., when it stops serving at its Village location of 5253 Ocean Blvd. Currently, without such a permit, live music must end at 10 p.m.

Gilligan’s at night. (photo by David Geyer)

On Jan. 31, the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners rejected that request. On Dec. 1, the Sarasota County Planning Commission had voted 5-0 in support of the new hours – in part because Gilligan’s had removed from its request the playing of live music in its rear parking lot, which faces a residential neighborhood.
What seemed to cause the commissioners their largest concern was the late hour being proposed.
Said Commissioner Joe Neunder, “2 o’clock – that’s pretty late in my book.”
Added Commissioner Nancy Detert, “The 2 o’clock is the deal breaker, I think. The later time brings you a different clientele.”
Commissioner Mark Smith, a Siesta Key resident who held is election party at Gilligan’s, cast the only vote in favor of the late hours. However, when the attorney for Gilligan’s owner Scott Smith spoke of the establishment’s “20-year unblemished record of compliance,” Smith noted his research did find a citation for a noise violation in 2010.
Six residents spoke in opposition of the idea. Joseph Reagan was one of them, saying “It will be the Wild West” if such late-night hours are allowed.
“Can you sleep at 2 o’clock in the morning with a bad rendition of the Rolling Stones through your windows? No, you cannot,” he added. “How would anyone be expected to live in those conditions? You will turn Siesta Key into a honky-tonk. These people do not have the right to ruin the lives of the people who live there.”
Resident John Doherty said such a move would cause the county to be officiating what will seem like a fight. “You’ll have Gilligan’s in one corner, and the sleepless in another,” he said.
And Tim Haake, who said he hears music at his residence even with his new windows shut, said “None of you would approve this if it were in your neighborhood.”
Smith, who resides on Siesta Key near his establishment, has stated that he loses business when patrons leave at 10 p.m. because the live music stops.
Three other Village establishments have been granted special exceptions for live music past 10 p.m. – The Hub Baja Grill for indoor live music (granted in 1992) when the business was the Fandango Cafe, the Dacquiri Deck for indoor live music (1992), and the Siesta key Oyster Bar (2001), whose permit allows both indoor and outdoor live music. However, its live shows end at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays when the business closes.
Both the Daiquiri Deck and Siesta Key Oyster Bar are directly across the street from Gilligan’s.
The Beach Club has also had live music past 10 p.m. grandfathered into its operations. Its music is played in an indoor setting.
In a move that caught commissioners off guard, attorney Casey Colburn during the meeting’s closing public comment segment, told them that the staff report on the topic had inaccuracies. Thus, he asked them to rescind their vote, re-advertise the matter, and discuss and vote again on the Gilligan’s proposal. Otherwise, the establishment would have to start all over again with a new application, which costs $7,500.
The board voted 3-2 against the request, with Smith and Detert in support.

John Morton
Author: John Morton

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