ISLAMORADA — A change to village code allowing permitted long docks to extend out to a water depth of 3 feet, instead of the current 4 foot regulation, could be forthcoming in the near future.
Most members of the Village Council during last week’s meeting appeared to be open to the idea, although further research must be conducted first.
“I’m not just thinking about this one dock,” Councilman Mike Forster said in reference to a controversial dock proposed for a private property abutting Founders Park beach.
“There are a lot without permits,” he added.
The village received paperwork late last month from the 16th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida notifying them that DMB Investment Trust is asking a judge to overturn a village denial of a request to build a 211-foot dock at 139 Gimpy Gulch Drive.
Island Construction Management owner Don Horton, an agent for DMB Investment, previously said to reach a depth of 4 feet the dock would have to extend out to its proposed 211 feet. A variance to meet the waterline requirement could be granted by the village under certain criteria.
Councilman Chris Sante was in agreement with Forster.
“We need to allow for shorter docks [in these situations],” he said.
Sante said changing the rule could allow for fewer sprawling docks, which can create navigation hazards.
During the public comment portion of the item from last week, one resident spoke against any change, saying that the surveys involved with obtaining such a permit don’t take into account the extremely low tides experienced a few times a year in the Florida Keys. During those occurrences, the speaker said boat props docked as these structures in 3 feet of water would surely be sitting on the bottom.
Horton, also during public comment, said the village should merely OK the construction of new docks once other agencies involved in the permitting process, such as the U.S. Army Corp and the state Department of Environmental Protection, sign off on it.
Ultimately, staff was directed by council to research the impacts of docks stopping at a water depth of 3 feet versus those at 4 feet.
Other items at the March 9 meeting included:
• Approval of the removal of roughly 15 no parking signs along the Old Highway between the hurricane monument and the Green Turtle Inn on Upper Matecumbe Key. Village Manager Seth Lawless said a couple may remain due to the proximity of fire hydrants. Forster said he would like to see the additional spaces gained from this to be used by transient vehicles and not as employee parking for the adjacent businesses.
• Approval to move forward with purchasing four lots on Plantation Key that the village would designate for affordable housing. The 25,000-square-foot property, priced at $390,000, is located across from Coral Shores High School between U.S.1 and Gardenia Street. Lawless said he would submit an offer on behalf of the village for $350,000. He also added that, if obtained, the property could likely hold at least eight one-bedroom apartments.
• Discussion of Village Attorney Roget Bryan’s annual performance evaluation. He received almost perfect scores from each on the five-member governing board. He was hired in September 2013 as Islamorada’s first in-house legal advisor.
• Approval of two separate construction projects that would install weed barriers at canals near mile marker 76, oceanside, as part of village water restoration efforts. One canal is situated between Sea and Ocean lanes, while the other is between Cortez and Columbus drives. The former is being funded through a public-private partnership while the latter is a state Department of Environmental Protection grant.
The next council meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 30 at the Founders Park Community Room.