Byline: Caren Burmeister
JACKSONVILLE BEACH -- Recognizing that outdoor drinking or music isn't appropriate for all restaurants, the city planning staff has proposed a new permit solely for outdoor dining.
City planners are drafting an ordinance for a new permit category that would let restaurants have outdoor tables for dinning but not for alcohol or music, said City Planning Director Steve Lindorff.
The Planning Commission will review the proposal and make a recommendation to the City Council, which has the final say.
A few restaurants, such as 11 South Bistro, have already gotten outdoor dining permits through the Planning Department, Lindorff said. He supports the ordinance because it distinguishes between outdoor dining and outdoor entertainment decks that allow amplified music and alcohol and sometimes annoy the neighbors.
The concept also appeals to David L. Smith, a downtown resident who blames the rise in robberies, fights and auto burglaries in the downtown entertainment district on the growing number of bars and outdoor drinking establishments.
"I'm all with him on that," Smith said about the proposed permit.
Smith said he is particularly frustrated about drinking and music that he says is taking place in a fenced lot behind Lynch's Pub, which is within 100 feet of his home.
Rather than let city planners handle permits on a case-by-case basis, Smith said he would prefer the city add more controls to the outdoor bars ordinance.
"Enforce the law or change the law," he said.
Lynch's General Manager Keith Doherty said alcohol isn't being sold in the back lot and there's no outdoor seating or music unless Lynch's gets a special permit from the city. He said local zoning rules let patrons take drinks outside if they stay in a secured area on the property. That's what the fenced area behind Lynch's is for, Doherty said. …