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Reaction mixed to marina vote

By Staff | May 5, 2012

While the Planning and Zoning Commission has given its approval to the expansion of Everest Marina, some property owners in the neighborhood are still debating the project.

The board unanimously approved Wednesday the expansion of the marina to allow for a boatlift, which would allow for direct access to Stokes Canal, as well as 30 boat slips.

The marina owners and some of the association members applaud the P&Z decision.

Others are not happy.

Among the complaints from the neighborhood association to the plan have been concerns about increased traffic and noise around the marina, not to mention what they say will be a not-too-aesthetically pleasing appearance.

“It’s disappointing,” said association president Phil Parsons. “We aren’t against the marina, we just wanted a few more restrictions and are still willing to work with them on those points.”

According to John Farrell who works at the marina, it has worked with the association’s naysayers long enough.

“Some of these people don’t want anything going on. No business, nothing,” Farrell said. “We did all the studies, state and federal permits, the manatees. They’ve exhausted all avenues.”

Not all of the neighbors are against the expansion.

One resident, who asked not to be identified, wondered if any of the protesters are real boat people.

“This is a boater’s community. I’d be interested if you find those promoting the stoppage of the marina, ask how many have boats,” the resident said. “There’s too much negativity.”

Parsons laughed at that suggestion

“Is that how we make deals? That doesn’t matter. You need to understand it’s the right business in the wrong place,” Parsons said.

Not according to the P&Z, apparently.

Vice-chairman Frank Triscari said the residents near the marina live across from an industrial area which includes the Everest Water Reclamation Facility.

“It’s been in an industrial area for many years and they do no damage to it,” Triscari said. “It’s not in the middle of a residential area. It’s along a water treatment plant.”

With the P&Z giving its approval, the decision now goes before the city council for final approval, but not before the association has 30 days to appeal the decision.

Parsons said he doesn’t know what the association can do, if anything, to convince the council to reverse the decision.

Council will be sure give it a careful look, said Councilmember Kevin McGrail.

“I know the marina has always coveted canal access, but before we vote, we want to see the mitigation plan and if it will be implemented,” McGrail said. “I know in years past they talked about putting bushes and plants in and the neighbors never received what they promised.”

No date has been set for a vote by council. But Farrell hopes that when all this is over, Everest can go back to being a peaceful neighborhood again.

“We’ve been fighting for years and jumping through hoops. All the T’s and crossed, all the I’s dotted,” Farrell said. “We have several customers who live here. We have a good rapport. We’ve never had a problem.”