Council Requests Changes to Dock Rules
By Anne McKay Garris
"Is it true," asked Councilman Paul Gibson during the Council's work session, Monday, "that we have no control over the size of docks in our City?
It is my understanding that the Community Development Board has the approval and the County does the permitting and the Clearwater Council has no say."
His concern was about the request for an 111 foot dock permit in Clearwater Bay which will be before the Community Development Board this month. From where he lives, he says, "You can hear the boats speeding down the waterway in the dark with inadequate lighting to see docks extending far out into the water."
Mayor Frank Hibbard agreed that he had been hearing from concerned citizens, not only on Clearwater Beach, but on Island Estates about the esthetics and safety concerns of long docks in what is now mostly open water. "How can we tighten up the code?" he asked.
Councilman John Doran pointed out that there are two criteria for determining allowed length. In the commercial area (which includes condos built under tourist zoning) docks are allowed to extend to a length equal to 75 percent of the frontage measurement of the upland property. They may, however, be allowed a variance to go beyond that, up to 25 percent of the width of the waterway.
The 25 percent allowance would leave open water space of 50 feet in a 100 foot wide waterway, and 125 feet in a 250 foot waterway. Thus how much actual open water would remain depends on the width of the waterway.
There were questions about the County's roll in dock permitting. It was agreed that the county staff was inclined to allow longer docks where shallow waters and protection of sea grasses indicated a need for them.
City Attorney Pam Akin told the Council that the County did not allow dock permits that had not been first approved by the Community Development Board and seldom went beyond what the CDB allowed.
After further discussion, it was agreed that the city code, as it applied to docks, should be revisited. Staff was asked to come back with ideas for changes, although Harbormaster Bill Morris expressed the view that the code is fine as it stands.
Citizens who have suggestions for changes should e-mail the City Council secretary at Diane.Manni@myclearwater.com.
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