A New Town doctor's plans to add 79 berths to his waterfront property off North Roosevelt Boulevard would require dredging that could damage seagrass, city planners say.
The required 4 feet of depth at the average low mark isn't there, said Brendon Cunningham, the city's senior planner, in an 11-page memo recommending the denial of Dr. Richard Walker's application to build a marina.
"Creating the channel would occur on the submerged land owned by the city," Cunningham wrote to the Planning Board. "If this is not approved by the state and federal agencies, the city would be liable for any damage to the seagrass present on this property."
Not so, says the application by Walker, the local obstetrician and gynecologist who owns the bay bottom behind his office building. Years ago, the property was owned by the city and the site of the Flipper Sea School.
"There is no dredging," said Owen Trepanier of Trepanier and Associates Inc., citing the water maps attached to Walker's application. "It appears to be a misunderstanding."
The Planning Board has the matter on the agenda for its 6 p.m. Thursday meeting at Old City Hall, 510 Greene St. City commissioners have the final say on all major development plans.
But Trepanier says his team has asked for a postponement in order to iron out plans for parking at the hotel across the street.
Walker wants to build a dock system with 79 berths on his 4.6-acre property, which is in a conservation district that demands city approval before any work can begin.
"It's an elevated boardwalk that will run around the interior of the mangrove," said Trepanier. "This is not a typical marina. This is just dockage. If you kept your boat there, you'd have your little keypad and type in your combination and gain entry. No retail or restaurant."
Trepanier said the site was always meant for the type of use Walker has proposed.
"The city property is specifically deeded for recreational purposes," Trepanier said. "All of this is navigable waters under the Army Corps of Engineers."
According to the minutes of the June 27 Development Review Committee meeting, city Urban Forestry Manager Karen DeMaria said Walker would need permits from the Corps of Engineers before starting construction, and would also need to adhere to state rules on mangrove pruning.
City planners didn't cite any other problems with the proposal.
The project requires 62 parking spaces and Walker's lot has only 20, but he has 57 spots available at the Fairfield Inn property across the street at 2400 N. Roosevelt Blvd., the city says.