Lee County hearing examiner Laura Bellflower approved the special exception request for the Olde Fish House Marina last week.
That special exception includes the allowance of a Group II restaurant, as well as consumption on property (COP) with outdoor seating within 500 feet of the separate dwelling unit.
The Olde Fish House Marina must obtain a certification of completion for its parking lot before the liquor license is issued. The shrimp boat "Mama Zita," as well as the old boatlift, must also be removed from the property.
The Olde Fish House Marina in Matlacha.
Olde Fish House Operating Manager Lisa Dence said they are very excited about the approval.
"Our next step is to get the property ready," she said, which will begin taking place the beginning of next week.
The travel lift has been sold and they are working on removing the shrimp boat.
Dence said she believes the county met them more than half way on everything within the special exception.
The special exception came with many conditions for the Group II restaurant, as well as COP requirements.
The COP special exception, which must be served tableside in designated areas, is limited to beer and wine. Consumption within the covered area is limited from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The outdoor seating area is limited from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
The condition also requires that signage is placed on each table within the 850 square foot outdoor seating area during the hours of consumption on premise, stating that drinking either wine or beer outside of the roped off area is prohibited.
In addition, the hearing examiner's decision also stated that "the Group II restaurant must be subordinate and ancillary to the on-site marina and/or commercial fishery and is only approved for as long as the marina or fishery operates on the property."
Dence said they are very excited to have the tables out back, as well as the seating out front because now it will be seen as a restaurant. She said she is very excited about starting table service as well.
"I am really excited about that, we will have servers," Dence said, adding that it will "open a door for a little more employment also."
She said they are hoping to have everything going in regards to tableside service in the next couple of months.
"I think it will move forward pretty quickly, we will definitely be ready for season," Dence said.
In terms of the outdoor entertainment, the hearing examiner stated that the hours are limited from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday nights. and from 2-6 p.m. on Sunday.
Dence said they will always take their neighbors into consideration when the music is played.
"We want them to know that," she said.
When there is outdoor entertainment, the boat ramp must be closed, as well as external boundaries being roped off for the COP licensed area.
According to Bellflower, if surrounding residents of the Olde Fish House Marina feel the music is too loud, they have to go through the Noise Control Ordinance that is enforced by the Lee County Sheriff's Department.
"But the issue of how loud the entertainment is or should be is still not a part of the review; the Noise Control Ordinance still controls this aspect," Bellflower wrote in the approval. "What is relevant to this review is whether, given the configuration of the subject property and COP areas, with the open and outdoor seating and open areas for the provision of music, the COP request may cause adverse impacts on the surrounding dwelling units, over and above the current or permitted potential impacts."
Dence said they are very appreciative to all the local businesses that have supported them, as well all the local residents.