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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Feb. 28, 201910:20 AM EST

Planned Spirit Animal restaurant in Five Points denied selling food, beer & wine outside

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Jack Shad, the agent for Spirit Animal, calls decision "a game-changing policy change by the City Council.”
by: Scott Sailer Staff Writer

City Council denied approval for the proposed Spirit Animal restaurant in Five Points to serve food, beer and wine.

The Jacksonville Planning Commission had approved a zoning exception for outside sales and service of food, beer and wine for the proposed Spirit Animal restaurant at 2000 Forbes St.

Riverside Avondale Preservation Inc. and neighborhood residents Mary Ellen Hansen and Ryan Parde appealed that order, noting the added noise from the outdoor seating area and the potential parking problems on Forbes Street.

The council Land Use and Zoning Committee recommended approval of the appeal Feb. 20.

RAP said at the meeting a settlement agreement would be acceptable with conditions that limited the hours of operation and the direction of the amplified music, but Hansen and Parde did not agree.

Council voted Tuesday 15-3 to support the appeal. Danny Becton, Anna Lopez Brosche and Joyce Morgan voted against the appeal.

Council President Aaron Bowman was absent. District 14 council member voted in favor of the appeal.

The approved appeal also denies an administrative deviation that reduced the required off-street parking from 24 spaces to four.

“I was shocked that the Land Use and Zoning Committee denied this project over parking, especially since the property has more parking than most others in Five Points,” said Jack Shad, an agent for Spirit Animal.

He said the decision “represents a game-changing policy change by the City Council.”

“If every project has to provide parking on its own lot, that will be a huge burden to small businesses, and kill the positive trend for development in Riverside and Five Points” he said.

James Robison, an owner of the Spirit Animal restaurant, said in a statement that his group's original business, Grassroots Natural Market, has been operating since 2006.

“We have been working hard to expand our brand and give our fans more of what they want. Five Points is known for independent businesses and in spite of all of the national chain grocery stores coming to Jacksonville, our customers continue to support local and in turn we continue to reinvest in our community,” he said.

Robison said his group has worked closely with RAP the past five months “and addressed their concerns about the project in the form of 11 conditions to be added to our approval.”

He said that despite reaching a signed agreement with RAP, appellants Molly Hansen and Ryan Parde “let us know through their attorney, Paul Harden, that no number of conditions would satisfy their concerns about the project. We were acting in good faith to come to a mutually agreeable scenario sensitive to the appellants’ concerns.”

“While we are disappointed by the City Council’s vote against our family opening a small farm to table restaurant with outdoor dining in Five Points, we are excited about the future, and are evaluating our options,” he said.

Ryan Parde declined the opportunity to comment and Hansen did not respond to an email request for comment.

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