Gilligan’s keeps swinging

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Goes before special magistrate, still seeking later music hours

By ChrisAnn Allen

Later live music is possibly still in play for Gilligan’s Island Bar & Grill.
Attorney Casey Colburn, representing Gilligan’s owner Scott Smith, said the establishment is currently in mediation with Sarasota County to determine if a special exception might be granted allowing a later cutoff time for live music – this, despite the county’s commissioners rejecting the request by a 4-1 vote back in January.
District 2 commissioner Mark Smith, a Siesta Key resident, provided the lone vote in favor. That request included that live music could go as late as 2 a.m., which is when Gilligan’s closes.
Currently, the establishment (located at 5253 Ocean Blvd. in the Siesta Key Village) can’t host live music past 10 p.m. After that, it plays recorded music.
A July 26 mediation session with a special magistrate was held but did not result in a decision. It will be continued, if needed, at 9 a.m. Sept. 13 in the commission chambers at 1660 Ringling Blvd. The proceedings will be open to the public.

Live music at Gilligan’s currently shuts down at 10 p.m. (photo by John Morton)

Under Florida law, Colburn said, the county is obliged to negotiate in good faith in a mediation setting.
Following the July 26 proceedings, Colburn emailed assistant county attorney David Pearce a proposal that included no live music on the back patio stage past 10 p.m. and all live music would end at midnight seven days per week. Pearce responded Aug. 15 that staff did not feel comfortable recommending Colburn’s proposal to the county commissioners, as it did not adhere to the “scientific approach” stipulated during the July 26 hearing, which would include a sound engineer’s evaluation of sound mitigation for the property.
In general, the maximum level of decibels allowed in the Village’s business district is 75. Under its current ownership, Gilligan’s has only had one noise-related complaint filed, according to county records.
“We know we can control the sound because we’ve been controlling it for 20 years,” Colburn said.
Colburn claims that county commissioners initially voted on a flawed report presented by county staff members that did not properly reflect changes to the Gilligan’s application — changes that eliminated the establishment’s interest in having live music in its back parking lot in an area that faces a residential neighborhood. This was explained by Colburn to the Sarasota County Planning Commission, which first heard the request in December, and then approved the application by a 5-0 vote.
Colburn said the intention was never to regularly include live music performance in the back parking lot, but the area was included in the special exception request so his client would not have to go through the costly process again if it chose to expand into that area in the foreseeable future. But since that possible scenario appeared to be the hold-up for approval by planners, Coburn convinced his client to remove it from the application.
However, when the application was presented Jan. 31 to the county commission, changes to the staff report were not completed and the parking lot was still included. Colburn said he was surprised, but expected commissioners to approve the special exception anyway, based on the planning commission’s recommendation. Instead, the commission voted it down.
Then, near the end of the meeting, an additional motion for reconsideration was rejected by a 3-2 vote with Smith and former commissioner Nancy Detert in favor.
The idea of live music going until 2 a.m. was a concern that some commissioners voiced during the denial. Whether or not the potentially misrepresented parking lot topic played a role is uncertain.
“The staff didn’t disclose the information to the commission,” Colburn said. “So, the commission was in the dark about these mistakes.”

Gilligan’s is located at 5253 Ocean Blvd. in the Siesta Key Village. (photo by John Morton)
ChrisAnn Allen
Author: ChrisAnn Allen

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