Planners approve seawall project at Mariner Pointe
During an extended meeting on Tuesday, Planning Commissioners debated whether to allow Mariner Pointe Condominiums to remove and replace a portion of their seawall, installing new rip-rap revetment as well as replacement of 4,500 square feet of boardwalk along the existing seawall, based upon their being located within the Bay Beach Zone.
Roy Gibson of the city’s Planning Department presented the staff report concerning Mariner Pointe’s conditional use permit application, which was seeking approval to remove and replace approximately 900 linear feet of seawall surrounding their subsection, add approximately 530 cubic yards of rip-rap revetment at the toe of the seawall and replace the boardwalk, which runs alongside the seawall.
“Neither the existing boardwalk or a replacement boardwalk is a permitted use or conditional use allowed in the Bay Beach Zone,” Gibson stated in his report. “There is no provision in the Sanibel Code for this non-conforming structure and use to be replaced or substantially improved.”
The Planning Department did, however, approve the remaining portions of the permit application, recommending the development permit with 22 conditions. Among the conditions were native limerock or clean natural boulders for the rim-rap material, no filling or dredging below the mean high water line associated with the installation of the revetment and installing native vegetation landward along the seawall.
Brent Stokes, representing the Mariner Pointe application, asked commissioners to allow the boardwalk structure to be replaced because the condominium tenants and guests consider it a valuable amenity and provides access to the fishing pier onsite. He also added that Dr. Rob Loflin, director of the city’s Natural Resources Department, was not opposed to the structure from an environmental standpoint.
“Just because the boardwalk sits on top of the seawall rather than next to the seawall does not give it any substantial rights to be in the Bay Beach Zone,” Planning Department director Jimmy Jordan noted.
Commissioner Chuck Ketteman suggested that it would be safer for people to walk on the boardwalk’s flat wooden surface rather than directly on the concrete seawall, asking what would prevent people from walking on top of the seawall. Gibson stated that the added vegetation bordering the seawall would be a deterrent.
Fellow commissioner Holly Smith asked whether, in the case of a natural disaster, if the boardwalk were destroyed, would the city’s build-back ordinance allow the boardwalk to be rebuilt. Gibson answered that under the provisions of the build-back legislation, it would.
“So if this was a pool, it would be okay? But because it’s a boardwalk, it is not,” added Ketteman, pointing out that such structures were not included in the recently-completed Resort Housing Redevelopment ordinance.
Stokes also called the boardwalk “a critical component” of the existing seawall, and stated that tenants of Mariner Pointe would let the structure fall into disrepair before they would agree to remove it.
“”It just seems awful that it should be able to deteriorate and fail in order to get it back,” he said, later adding, “Without being a bully, we are going to wind up with a boardwalk, one way or the other.”
After some addition debate over whether the existing structure could be removed and replaced with all of its original materials, or whether Mariner Pointe would consider doing less than 50 percent of the replacement now, with the remaining structure replaced in the future, Jordan explained that the application was for “100 percent,” which he said would not be permitted.
Commissioner Paul Reynolds made a motion, which was originally for continuation of the discussions on the application until a market analysis evaluation was completed for the project, but amended it after it was decided that because the replacement of the seawall – and adjacent boardwalk – was less than 50 percent of the total seawall existing at the site. Tom Krekel seconded that motion, which passed unanimously 6-0 (with Dr. Phillip Marks excused).
The commission will consider final approval of the application at its Sept. 13 meeting.