While Coral Bay Yacht Club members think Summer’s End Group’s planned 145-slip marina is too large for Coral Bay Harbor, they said Tuesday they’d like a dock so transient day boats could access the area’s restaurants and shops.
“Coral Bay is a hamlet and that’s what we want it to remain,” Yacht Club Commodore Steve Hendron said after the meeting held under a tree at Skinny Legs Restaurant and Bar.
More than two dozen people from the Yacht Club and the community attended the meeting.
The Yacht Club members plan to attend the Coastal Zone Management Committee hearing to be held on Summer’s End’s land and water applications. It is the second item on the agenda at a meeting that begins at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 20 at the Legislature.
Club member Dick Burks said that, although members can say they don’t want the marina, the issue will be what’s allowed under the law.
In addition to the scope of the project, Hendron said the application doesn’t include enough environmental protections. He said the large boats expected to use the facility will shade the bay to the point that sea grass won’t grow.
“You cannot grow sea grass without sunlight,” Gary Ray said.
Additionally Hendron suggested that the boats will get in the way of the natural flushing of the harbor that washes out sedimentation from the hillsides.
And should the marina be approved, the Yacht Club members want assurances that if it gets wiped out in a storm because it’s on the open side of the harbor, the insurance money will go to rebuild it.
“We don’t want 1,400 sticks out there in the water and the developer takes a hike,” Hendron said, referring to the pilings that would likely remain even if the docks washed away.
Hendron also said the marina is not in keeping with what the CZM act of 1972 envisioned for Coral Bay. He said it didn’t call for commercial development.
“Coral Bay is not an urban environment,” Ray said.
At issue for the permit process is the makeup of the CZM Committee. Although the law mandates five members, there are currently only three on board. One of those members is Brion Morrisette, who is a member of the Summer’s End team. It’s likely he’ll recuse himself from the voting, leaving members Andrew Penn and Edmond Roberts to decide on the fate of the application.
However, Coral Bay Community Council President and Yacht Club member Sharon Coldren said the CZM Committee is not the end of the road. Summer’s End must still get an Army Corps of Engineers permit, which she said was likely to take years.
“They have to prove they will do no damage,” she said, ticking off items like sea grass, mangroves, essential fish habitat and the elkhorn coral that live in the bay as species likely to be impacted by a marina of that size.
Citing other marinas that have gone through a similar process, she said it could be 2019 or 2020 before construction began.