V.M. Ybor residents unhappy about Trinity Cafe will protest at City Council

Cindy Davis is program director with Trinity. She says that her organization has done everything by the book, and it's only a matter of raising sufficient funds to renovate the property before they will begin serving meals in the area. "It's zoned properly, so there should be no reason why we cannot move in there."

She says Trinity is about 70 percent toward its fundraising goal of $350,000.

Bailey says she and neighborhood association president Kim Headland have met with City Councilman Frank Reddick and persuaded him to put the issue on Thursday's agenda. They want City Council to force the City's Zoning Department to update its zoning matrix, claiming that current zoning laws allow Trinity to classify itself as a regular restaurant when it isn't.

"If this was a drive-through restaurant, they would have to go to City Council for approval, but because they're calling themselves a restaurant and there's no zoning classification for soup kitchen, they're allowed to do this," Bailey says.

Among the members of Trinity's board are former House Republican Trey Traviesa and Ken Jones, the number one man in charge of the Republican National Convention. Earlier, V.M. Ybor critics had tried to tie Trinity's move with the RNC, but have backed off on those charges.

Though the parties have met, Kelly Bailey complains that Trinity hasn't been a good neighbor because its principals never came before the V.M. Ybor board before purchasing the property in the neighborhood last year.

"Their big thing is about serving people with dignity and respect, but they don't care about what respect these people show the 20 hours outside the service they're open."

Trinity Cafe's Cindy Davis acknowledges that there is neighborhood opposition. "They're not happy with us, but we did meet with them several times," she says.

Zoning Administrator Cathy Coyle is scheduled to address the Council on the status of the Trinity Cafe move on Thursday.

Neighborhood residents who reside in the V.M. Ybor area, just north of Ybor City, plan to speak at Thursday's Tampa City Council meeting regarding their opposition to a proposal by the owners of the Trinity Cafe to open a restaurant in the neighborhood.

For over a decade Trinity, currently housed at the Salvation Army on Florida Avenue, has offered high-quality lunches to the homeless or those who just want to come in for a meal cooked by a professional chef and served by waiters.

In June, officials with the Trinity Cafe purchased a property on Nebraska Avenue and 17th Avenue to serve meals at a facility that they could call their own.

But the move has not been greeted with open arms.

Kelly Bailey is the vice president of the V.M. Ybor Neighborhood Association, which is leading the opposition. She says her group's legal challenge is that the Trinity Cafe is calling itself a restaurant, "but people don't queue up 24 hours in advance to eat at a restaurant," referring to the fact that the cafe would predominantly be serving meals to the homeless.

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