Will Vasana in the News


Jacksonville residents raise protest against bikini bar at zoning hearing

Thursday, November 14, 2013
By Dan Scanlan

A zoning exception to allow a shuttered Baymeadows Road Burger King to become the Passions show bar met with vocal resistance Thursday night when it came before the Jacksonville Planning Commission.

In a hearing that went on into the night, about 30 people had gone on the record against the exception by 9:00 p.m. Thursday, while no members of the public had expressed support for the move.

Among those opposing it were residents who live east and west of the busy road, attorneys for some of their communities and church leaders whose houses of worship are near the proposed location of the club, which would feature dancing women and alcohol sales.

Dennis McDonaghy lives off Baymeadows Road nearby and goes to Holy Family Catholic Church, about 1½ miles east of the proposed bar. He said the Duval Charter School and the Church of Jacksonville are only a mile north of it in a business park and many more churches and schools are east of there on Baymeadows Road.

"This is simply inconsistent with the values we are trying to teach our kids, plain and simple," he said. "You don't see adult entertainment in good neighborhoods. Put it on Philips Highway."

William Vasana, a Realtor who lives about five miles away in the Wyngate Forest community on Touchton Road, said many schools and communities are minutes away from the proposed bar site.

"It will be a step in the wrong direction," he said. "We have been in the neighborhoods for a while and we have seen a lot of changes. This is one change we would not like to see."

But Karl Sanders, the attorney for the developers who want to open the Paradise at 8669 Baymeadows Road, has said there is no legal reason not to allow it on the commercial and retail road already occupied by restaurants, offices, hotels and banks.

The 1.64-acre show bar site is between a Wells Fargo Bank and the India House restaurant on Baymeadows Road, and is owned by Burger King. Albanese Enterprises, formed by two Jacksonville men who want to open Passions, already secured a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office license. They also received Planning Commission approval for alcoholic beverage sales Aug. 15, when city planners said it was consistent with the character of the area and will not be near churches or schools. But adding what the city calls a "dancing entertainment establishment" required another zoning exception, and a planning department recommendation of denial prior to Thursday's public hearing.

Sanders said the existing Burger King will be gutted and rebuilt with a restaurant kitchen, and could open by mid-2014.

Dan Scanlan: (904) 359-4549

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