By Richard Mundy
For Hometown News
Guess who's coming to dinner? The Ormond Beach City Commission voted unanimously to pass the first reading of the so-called "doggie dining" ordinance. If it passes on second reading, man's best friends will be able to join their masters at dinner.
However, only a few select restaurants that have to meet stringent rules and regulations will be allowed to do so. These rules include no interaction between those diners without pets and those with. The ordinance does not apply to service animals, and no other pets are allowed under the ordinance.
Nancy Neeb, representing Lulu's Oceanside Grill, said when tourists and other diners now come to the restaurant with their dogs, LuLu's has to tell them to go to Daytona Beach or Flagler Beach where they allow doggie dining.
In a commissioner's workshop in November, it was noted that 15 restaurants had appropriate facilities to meet the requirements for doggie dining and eight at that time were interested in it.
Commissioner Rick Boehm said, "I've said it before and I'll say it again that I'm in favor of this ... A restaurant would only adopt this if they believe it's going to help their business."
He noted the stringent requirements set forth by the state to qualify for inclusion must be met, including that "people who wish to enter the restaurant do not have to walk through the dogs. The restaurant has to have a separate outdoor facility and the dogs are not allowed inside."
Commissioner Bill Partington said, "I am in favor of it too. This is something that enhances the experience of those who wish to take their dogs with them to go out to eat."
Local resident Patrick Daugherty also spoke in favor of the ordinance, but mentioned he believed the permit fee of $100 and a $45 inspection fee were excessive. In checking with Daytona Beach Permit Department, I was advised their application fee for a "Doggie Dining" permit for an existing restaurant was $30 with no inspection fee. If it were a newly opened restaurant, the fees may reach as much as $400, but that would include much more than just the doggie dining permit. Flagler Beach reported a $100 application fee, plus a yearly $150 permit fee that included a yearly inspection.
Mayor Ed Kelley pointed out it was the responsibility of the restaurants to have appropriate insurance to cover any potential problems.
Both Mayor Kelley and commissioner James Stowers also said they have received a number of e-mails from citizens who believed the ordinance automatically applied to all restaurants. Commissioner Stowers questioned whether some kind of information could be communicated that made it clear the approval did not apply to all restaurants.
City Manager, Joyce Shanahan said that perhaps as a marketing campaign, restaurants that offered doggy dining could have a "yappy hour."
In other business, commissioners approved a zoning change for 5.86 acres of vacant land at 146 North Orchard Street from office/hospital to light industrial. According to Ric Goss, Ormond Beach Planning Director, the owners needed the zoning change in order to create a facility for "storage of RVs, recreational vehicles."
After the most contentious discussion of the meeting, concerning rezoning 37.9 acres at Airport and Tymber Creek roads and amending the ordinance, the commission voted 4-1 in favor of the first reading of the ordinance. According to Mr. Goss, the ordinance pertained to property previously annexed by the city in 2008. He further explained the ordinance was in keeping with details previously agreed to and with similar lot sizes prevalent in the area.
At a workshop in October, it was agreed to put the matter before a commissioners' meeting after making a number of suggestions to the principal owner of the development firm, White Falcon Land Development, Mr. Edward J. Speno Jr. One of the major details was the change of lot size from 80 by 110 feet to 60 by 100 feet, allowing for 163 single-family lots.
The city planning board approved the ordinance with the exception of the change in lot size before passing it on to the commissioners.
Mr. Speno gave a presentation explaining the additional amenities and construction details of the subdivision to show response to the suggestions of the commissioners and in keeping with current economic conditions. Additionally his plan calls for solution to a drainage problem that has plagued a portion of the property during heavy rain for years.
Several of the commissioners queried Mr. Speno about the possibility of having a range of lot widths available in the subdivision. Mr. Speno explained that given the downturn of the housing market, it was the increased number of lots that made it possible to build a higher quality subdivision with the additional amenities than the Ormond Beach building code requires.
Mr. Goss said most developers use the code as their maximum in building and Mr. Speno has viewed it as his minimum and has exceeded the code in a number of desirable areas. He said, "He has worked to provide a higher quality finish. He's trying to develop a traditional neighborhood concept."
Commissioner Troy Kent asked, "Why is Mr. Speno (no disrespect intended) willing to build fences and a swimming pool? I don't necessarily think it's because he wants to make the city happy. I think it's because some people want that ... for me, I'm tapping out at 80-foot lots ... that's what I approved ... 80 foot lots is where I am."
Commissioner Boehm said, "I think this man is trying to build a superior subdivision. I think the concerns that have been addressed about the 60-foot lots are a legitimate concern. At the same time, there are so few that are building in the city; this may be part of a turn around in the city. It troubles me to read every Sunday about the foreclosures ... in Ormond Beach. It troubles me to see so few housing starts. And to see someone come in and ask to build 163 homes is in my experience ... to see a man wanting to exceed every standard that we ask ... I'm really not inclined to say no."
With a vote of 4-1 approving the ordinance, the ordinance requires a second reading and affirmative vote to approve the project.