Town debates whether docks can grow to 100 feet long: Manalapan

By Hector Florin
Will longer docks on the north end of Manalapan create eyesores and bring bigger boats to town? That’s a question being mulled as the town considers allowing dock lengths to extend, in some cases, to 100 feet, depending on the size of the property. Town commissioners debated the code change on Jan. 27, stemming from discussion by the Zoning Commission in November, but decided to postpone any decision for one year. Commissioner Robert Evans led the charge to study the effects before making any changes, questioning whether allowing longer docks will alter the town’s pristine charm.
“I think our model should be more Gulf Stream and Hobe Sound than I do our larger cities,” Evans said. “We are Old Florida — quiet, tasteful. I don’t think huge docks further that model.”
The change is being considered for the R1-C district north of 1020 S. Ocean Blvd. because this part of the Intracoastal Waterway is wider. As proposed, the code change would allow dock terminuses to extend six inches for each foot of property line, although they cannot surpass 100 feet. Zoning laws in the district now allow a maximum of 50-foot dock terminus length, but can reach up to 75 feet if the property line is greater than 300 feet. Evans said residents south of the line would wonder why they wouldn’t be allowed to build a longer dock. Town resident Terry Taylor is seeking a variance to expand his dock length.
His attorney, Ron Kolins, told commissioners that not everyone will seek to build the maximum size and questioned whether they would look unsightly.
“Docks are low to the water,” he said. Commissioners voted 4-1 on the one-year postponement, with Tom Coffman dissenting and Peter Blum and Tom Thornton absent. It’s still a bit of a mystery why the 50-foot terminus rule was set about a decade ago. While Taylor is seeking the variance, one commissioner said it is a rare circumstance.
“This is the first time that anyone’s questioned the size of docks,” said Vice Mayor Kelly Gottlieb, a commissioner since July 2002.
The Town Commission also addressed the following at its Jan. 27 meeting:
• A1A reopening: Announced the opening of State Road A1A through the town, with construction officially completed on Jan. 26. Lane-striping work was scheduled early in the morning on Feb. 1, Mayor Tom Gerrard said. Meanwhile, Gerrard and Police Chief Clay Walker said more cars have been seen speeding on the road. “Traffic enforcement will intensify to bring driving behavior within safe limits,” Walker wrote in a report.
• Iguana appearances: Will consider a plan at the Feb. 24 commission meeting to remove iguanas from the town. Commissioner Tom Coffman said he saw two of the creatures near his home about six months ago, and now believes there are four. “It’s probably a good time to get rid of the four,” he said.
• Well construction: Approved an $811,000 contract with All Webb’s Enterprises Inc. to construct a deep-water well. The town piggy-backed on a 2006 contract between the Jupiter-based company and the Seacoast Utility Authority. Under contract terms, the work would be done in 210 days.
• Ritz Carlton deadline extension: Approved a request by the hotel to extend completion and compliance of its expansion until March 31, 2009. Also approved increasing the number of hotel rooms from 309 to 311.
• Decorative street lights: In response to some residents who said the decorative street lights on A1A can emit too much light, the commission will consider next month whether to switch from the current acorn-style lights to others that shield some of the light and point it down. La Coquille residents said three of the nine decorative lights in town affect them, and a representative of the club agreed to have one light switched with another type of fixture to see if the problem is solved.

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