One Winter Park street may soon look like a European café if the City Commission gives it the OK. But a couple of hurdles still stand in the way of on-street dining on East Hannibal Square, which lies in between two restaurants, Hannibal’s and Armando’s.
At Monday’s City Commission meeting, commissioners grappled about whether other streets and restaurants would have the right to request the same thing if the city agreed to allow East Hannibal Square to be closed from 5-11:30 p.m. nightly.
“This is for lack of a better word a conditional use,” Commissioner Tom McMacken said, “and when we grant that we do it with the knowledge that other places and businesses may come forth and say, ‘hey, you did it there, why can't I have that?’”
The change would allow nearby restaurants to move tables into the narrow street, which runs north from West New England Avenue to West Welbourne Avenue, to create more of an outdoor café ambiance, and possibly attract more business.
“I’m doing this for the community at Hannibal Square because I think this is something that’s going to be very neat,” Sydgan Corporation President Dan Bellows, the petitioner for the street closing, said.
But Commissioner Carolyn Cooper said it was that same community that could suffer from noise and inconvenience from the street dining, which would cut off the street and eliminate three parking spaces. She said nearby residents should have been given more notice so that they could speak for or against the idea.
“What if this was your home?” Cooper asked. “We’re going to talk about the possibility of putting dining on your driveway. It’s down the street I know, but I just think they should have notice, that’s all.”
Bellows countered that he hadn’t received any complaints from the closest residents to the restaurants in Hannibal Square, despite already having patio dining.
“I have 133 apartments sitting right above that that are 100 percent full, and I haven’t received a single complaint, so this one single family home that’s 200 feet away is just not involved,” Bellows said.
City Attorney Larry Brown said that the Commission had already given adequate notice for residents, and could have voted on the change at the same meeting.
“I’m not saying you couldn’t be more courteous and give more notice, but you’ve met the legal requirement,” Brown said.
Public Works Director Troy Attaway said that the city would also have to waive any rules that prevented alcohol from being served on the street if they wanted the restaurants to be able to serve it on East Hannibal Square.
Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel suggested that the city allow a 90-day trial period to see if the on-street dining causes any problems. McMacken agreed, adding that he thought it could be possible that other areas of the city could do the same thing.
“I'd like to see whether it succeeds or fails before we extend it throughout the city,” McMacken said. “I want to see a success before we take that extra step.”
The Commission voted 4-1 to table the motion until a future meeting so that they could provide more notice and to consider some of the issues that could cause problems with the change.