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Neighbors oppose Lime's later hours

SOHO — Cole and Michele Jeffries recently woke up at their W Morrison Avenue home and found an uninvited guest.

"A drunk vagrant spent the night on our porch, vomited, defecated and urinated on himself and the porch. He was still passed out at noon when the police arrived," the couple wrote in an e-mail to the City Council last month.

The couple are not happy about the nightly hustle and bustle in SoHo, which is why they don't want the Lime restaurant around the corner from their home to stay open beyond its 11 p.m. closing time on weekdays and midnight on weekends.

They don't necessarily think the vagrant had dined at Lime but are afraid the longer hours will "potentially bring more people in that won't respect our property and nice neighborhood."

And they're not alone.

Other members of the Parkland Estates Civic Club are opposing Lime owners, who are pushing to keep the restaurant, in business at 915 S Howard Ave., open until 2 a.m. on some nights of the week. The City Council will hear both sides during a public hearing next week.

But residents fear the later hours will only bring trouble.

"It increases the likelihood of serious injury to people and property in the vicinity," James Evangelista, who also lives on W Morrison Avenue, wrote in a recent e-mail to the City Council. "The sheer number of vehicles, drunks, drug users, criminals, careless joy seekers and vagrants is increased disproportionately at the time of day when we are more vulnerable."

Lime has a late crowd and handles about 50 percent of its volume of customers between 9:30 p.m. and midnight on weekends, owner James Lanza said.

"We have no choice. We have to focus on making business during weekends because of the economy," Lanza said. His business does not cater to a young college crowd seeking a buzz or looking for trouble.

"They're scared. I can't blame them," he said. "Everybody thinks that we are going to be the next MacDinton's (a popular bar in SoHo)."

Jennifer Glaser, who lives on Bristol Avenue, is among the few who doesn't oppose Lanza's petition and often dines at the restaurant.

"The Lime has been a very good neighbor," she said. "I just don't see how it could turn into MacDinton's because it doesn't have the big patio."

Alessandra Da Pra can be reached at adapra@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3434.

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If you go

A public hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 315 E Kennedy Blvd.

Neighbors oppose Lime's later hours 06/19/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 19, 2008 1:31pm]
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