A request to build a tourist-oriented marina on the Eastpoint waterfront has been denied.
At Tuesday morning’s meeting, county commissioners voted 3-2 to not grant a special exception to a property owner who sought to install at 10-slip marina at 524 US 98, adjacent to Barber’s Seafood.
Commissioners Cheryl Sanders, Smokey Parrish and Noah Lockley were opposed. The marina would have featured a 1,000 square foot building to house offices and restrooms.
The request was tabled after an initial discussion at the Nov. 19 county meeting. Commissioners asked Shannon Hartsfield, president of the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association, to investigate possible impacts of the marina on oyster beds, including the very productive bar at Cat Point.
Dan Garlick of Garlick Environmental Associates, who represented the proposed “Steve’s Dockside Marina,” said investors wanted to introduce some sport fishing boats and attempt to lure some charter captains to Eastpoint.
“It’s on land so it’s not going to displace any oyster boats,” he said. “If you’re going to put in this kind of facility, then Eastpoint is a good place to put it. It will enhance the economy.”
On Tuesday, Hartsfield told commissioners the proposed marina would not have any effect on oyster harvesting. Garlick said permits had been issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers.
But, Parrish expressed concern about the larger impact. “The next project to west will impact oyster bars,” he said. “I don’t want to say yes to Jim and then no to Joe so I can’t support this project.”
Sanders also voiced an objection. “We have tried for years to get Eastpoint cleaned up to no avail,” she said. “We need to not do it piecemeal. We need to find out what the people of Eastpoint want. I’d like to look at a real good plan. I am concerned about this.”
Commissioner Pinki Jackel said she believed the proposed use was in keeping with existing seafood businesses and moved to grant the exception. She was seconded by Commissioner William Massey.