BRADENTON -- Carl Callahan, the city clerk and chief of staff, had to step outside of his role Wednesday night, when he and business partner Scott Tibbetts asked the city council to give up its rights to an alley that bisects property the pair owns.
Callahan excused himself from the city meeting as Tibbetts and their attorney asked the city to close the alley to traffic, so they could rebuild on the site of the former Open MRI of Manatee Inc. The pair owned the business until Toshiba declared the magnet in their machine obsolete. At that point they decided to close the business and put the building and additional land up for sale.
Tibbetts said they have a contract on the property if they can build a 4,000-square-foot office and parking lot, but they need to close the alleyway to traffic to make it safe for the people coming in and out of the proposed building.
But Griffith Cline Funeral Home, which has been in business since 1938, uses the alley for people who attend funerals and services on their property and giving up access to the alley will cause traffic congestion on their site and will add to traffic problems on the surrounding streets, including Manatee Avenue, said Nelon Kirkland, an attorney for the funeral home.
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Kirkland said cutting off the 110-year-old alley would push traffic to downtown and cause traffic back-ups at both the funeral home and the post office.
When all was said and done, the council voted 4-1 to vacate part of the alley, allowing Tibbetts and Callahan to rebuild on the site.
The specter of traffic congestion had prompted the planning commission to vote against vacating a portion of the alley and giving part of it to Tibbetts and Callahan, even though the city’s staff had recommended approval of vacating the alley, as long as the utility right-of-way is preserved.
Tibbetts said the alley is so narrow it should not be used for traffic and that having it open would be dangerous to patrons of the business that will have to cross the alley to get to the parking area for the business.
Tibbetts said he envisions that entire area becoming a medical enclave and that although he said he could not say who is interested in buying the property, it will be used as some sort of medical building.
Callahan said after Tuesday’s meeting that he did not attend the planning commission meeting and stepped outside the city council meeting to allow Tibbetts and Thompson to handle the issue because he “thought it would be more appropriate,” given his role with the city.