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By Ashley Thornton
Bill Vansecyoc has received the City Commission's approval to proceed with his plans for a bar on 3rd Street at the old Fishbonz location.
Vansecyoc sought a variance in the Cedar Key zoning law barring alcohol sales and service within 500 feet of a school or church at the May 21 commission meeting.
Attorney Terry Tataru, who represented Vansecyoc at the quasi-judicial hearing, presented the case for allowing the business and provided a letter from the Methodist church located within that radius stating that they have no objection to the business.
Vansecyoc plans to turn the upper level of the building into a small club named Pelican Railroad. “There will be a small bar, five to six tables, limited hours with a full liquor license. He doesn’t want to be the last stop. He ran a bar in Callahan for 17 years with no citations and got along with police,” Tataru said of the project. Vansecyoc applied for the variance to prevent any future issues from arising.
The 500-foot requirement would have been disputable based on how the measurement chould be taken:
The distance to the door of the church is well over 500 feet to Fishbonz, but to the corner of the church lot to the business would be a little under. The law setting the requirement was passed in 1947 and not granting the variance would have called into question many other businesses in close proximity to churches or the school.
Vansecyoc first presented his request three months ago and the commission initially considered changing the old ordinance. But the commissioners decided that it would be more difficult than necessary for something that rarely occurs.
Based on the due diligence on Vansecyoc’s part, the consent of the church administrator and other safety factors, a motion was made and approved to grant the ordinance.
One commissioner stated that they are losing businesses in town and this is a chance to add one.