BRADENTON — The owner of the property next to the Smoothie King on Manatee Avenue West — where Smitty’s Pub & Grille sits — may be headed to court to contest a city council decision that allows parking and a drive-through on the east side of the juice bar.
Dr. S.J. Catalino said Thursday he was conferring with his attorneys about filing a lawsuit after the council voted 3-2 Wednesday to approve a special-use permit for the drive-through.
Attorney Patricia Petruff, who represented Catalino at pubic hearing Wednesday evening, said the council’s vote “could be buying a ticket to the show.”
At issue is the effect on traffic and parking at Smitty’s now that the drive-through is allowed in the current configuration of parking at both Smitty’s and Smoothie King.
Petruff argued that the city could not grant the permit because the site plan showed the drive-through lane encroaching on Catalino’s property to the east of Smoothie King.
She referenced a letter from Catalino’s litigation attorney, David Boyette, to the city saying the encroachment “would cause significant damages, but not limited to, business damages, devaluation of property and clouding of the title” to his client’s property.
Petruff said the council should follow its Planning Department recommendation and eliminate the parking between the building and the drive-through lane, which would keep all the traffic on the Smoothie King site.
The owners of the Smoothie King franchise, David and Dawn Cotrone and Raleigh and Kim Dumas, lease the building from Saint Stephen’s Day Private School.
Kim Dumas told the council at the 2 1/2-hour public hearing that Smoothie King must have the six parking spaces on the east side for the business to be successful.
The attorney for Saint Stephen’s, Will Robinson, said his client has made several changes to accommodate Catalino’s concerns, but each one evolved into a new demand.
The parking spaces next to the building have been there since 1994, and even if they stay, the new site plan improves the traffic circulation around Smoothie King.
Three members of the council agreed to not follow the Planning Department recommendation and approved the special use permit with the parking spaces.
Councilman Patrick Roff said he was supporting the business owners over Catalino’s property rights, while Councilman Bemis Smith said there were drive-throughs at the previous businesses on that site and never any problems.
Smith also said even though his child attends Saint Stephen’s, that did not affect his vote.
Councilman Gene Gallo said the issue was like “two hens fighting.”
“A lot of lawyers are getting rich over something that could have been settled a long time ago,” Gallo said.
The two council members who voted against the special permit that maintains the parking spaces next to the building were Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey and Councilman Harold Byrd.
Barnebey said the city council can only make land use decision and not business decisions.
“We’re talking about an intense use of the property,” she said, “and that stays with the land.”
Byrd said the city could delay voting and wait until the issue was settled in court, but City Attorney Bill Lisch said the city could not force the parties to go to court.