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Mar 032017
 
OCEANSIDE MARINA: Bathroom-less Vacation Villas? The Hawk's Cay Inquiry Continues...

by Naja Girard……. Did a county planning manager, developer Pritam Singh, and a Hawk’s Cay HOA manager lie under oath to the Monroe County Planning Commissioners in 2014? They all swore that county records showed there were 12 unbuilt “leftover” hotel units at the Hawks Cay resort on Duck Key. “They are vested rights,” claimed Mr. Singh, who convinced the board to approve a transfer of those 12 hotel units to his new project at Oceanside marina. However, when The Blue Paper discovered that there were over 60 [continue reading…]

Jan 272017
 
Oceanside Marina Update 

by Naja Girard……. Oceanside Marina has now officially opened its 175-room “Ocean’s Edge” resort to tourists from all over the world. But there’s still no satisfactory determination as to the legal status of the operation. Is it a “175-room hotel” created without the 175 transient building allocations (ROGOS) required by law or is it a collection of “attached” condos prohibited from engaging in vacation rentals in that particular zoning district (Mixed Use – MU)?

 January 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am News 3 Responses »
Jan 202017
 
Oceanside Marina: It's Getting Worse...

by Naja Girard……. The cloud over the new Oceanside Marina hotel is getting darker. For months questions have been lingering about the appearance of a luxury 175-room hotel on Stock Island when only 17 hotel building rights (called “transient ROGO’s”) were on file for the project (instead of 175). Well, things just got worse. There is good reason, this week, to question whether 12 of those lone 17 transient (hotel) ROGO’s even existed or whether they were created out of thin air using false documents. It [continue reading…]

Jan 132017
 
Oceanside Marina / Time for an Independent Opinion?

This article was updated on Feb 5, 2017 Editorial by Naja Girard……. For the past several weeks The Blue Paper has been reporting on the controversial new hotel that just opened at Oceanside Marina on Stock Island. “Have you seen this article?” asked Commissioner Heather Carruthers in an email to the Planning Director, Mayte Santamaria, “Are the premises correct? Have we been hoodwinked? Or do they not have all the information? I think this warrants a response.” This week Ms. Santamaria, produced a 22-page document. [continue reading…]

Jan 062017
 
Oceanside Marina Part Two:  The "Condo Wars"

by Naja Girard……. Just as we were wondering whether Pritam Singh’s soon to open “175-room Hotel” on Stock Island was legal, The Blue Paper received an interesting tip. Pritam Singh is suing 7 of his neighbors for alleged unlawful vacation rental use of their condos at Oceanside Marina. He wants them to rent long-term. The $100 million question is whether there is in fact any difference between those old condos (2003) and the new ones recently built by Mr. Singh at that very same marina. [continue reading…]

Dec 302016
 
Oceanside Marina: Bait & Switch

December 30, 2016 by Naja Girard……. He is renowned for his real estate prowess, selling 100-million-dollar hotels in Key West as if they are going out of style: Parrot Key Resort on Roosevelt Boulevard in 2014 sold for $100,000,000 and only 1 year later, in March of 2015, The Marker near Key West Bight sold for $96,250,000). Pritam Singh, dubbed the Donald Trump of the Keys, is now ready to unveil his latest creation: Ocean’s Edge Key West on Stock Island (the old Oceanside Marina). People will say, “It’s [continue reading…]

Jan 202018
 
City's Deregulation of Transient Licenses Will Reduce Residential Housing

OP/ED by Arnaud and Naja Girard…….. Hurricane Irma has left hundreds of people homeless in the Florida Keys. We wanted to know how the local government was handling the housing crisis. Officials seem genuinely concerned. They hold meetings and workshops on workforce housing issues. But clearly the problem predates the storm. Locals believe that, in recent years, too many residential units have been allowed to be transformed into vacation rentals. In this context we were surprised to learn that this week the City Commission voted [continue reading…]

Dec 152017
 
Big Pine & Lower Keys Nautical Expo to Offer Maritime Merchandise Jan. 13-14

BIG PINE KEY, Florida Keys — Attention, water enthusiasts: boats, motors and nautical items galore are to be available at the 14th annual Big Pine & Lower Keys Nautical Expo. A popular annual “pop-up” outfitter of supplies for a wide variety of water activities, the open-air market is set for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 13-14. The bargain-lover’s event typically features merchandise for sailors and boaters, anglers, kayakers, fans of the Florida Keys’ underwater realm and others who enjoy experiencing the island chain’s unique seafaring environment. [continue reading…]

 December 15, 2017  Posted by at 12:12 am Issue #247, Special Events, What To Do No Responses »
Dec 082017
 
Update on Hurricane Debris Removal In Unincorporated Monroe County and on US 1

Monroe County’s new debris removal contractor DRC Environmental Services began removing white goods (large appliances) on Nov. 30. Crews currently are working to collect eligible construction and demolition hurricane debris, as well as vegetative hurricane debris in the following areas: Lower Sugarloaf Upper Sugarloaf in Indian Mounds Estate Cudjoe Key on the north side of U.S. 1 in the Cudjoe Ocean Shores Subdivision Cudjoe Key on the south side on Spanish Main Drive and roads off of it Summerland Key on the ocean side near [continue reading…]

 December 8, 2017  Posted by at 12:32 am issue #246, News, Public Notice 1 Response »
Dec 012017
 
Animal Control Update – RFP Failure

by Margaret Blank……. Ugh.  The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is just so buffoonish and incompetent.  It’s very, very annoying to me.  I’m so glad they’ve all been nabbed for ethics violations.  It’s so well deserved. The county advertised a Request for Proposal (RFP) to run the Marathon animal shelter.  They placed ads only in local newspapers. The Key West Citizen, the county’s propaganda arm. The Keynoter/Reporter, Murphy’s mouthpiece. Only one bidder responded, the Florida Keys Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (FKSPCA).  They are [continue reading…]

 December 1, 2017  Posted by at 12:58 am Issue #245, Margaret Blank 2 Responses »
Nov 172017
 
BOCC Persuades Me to Run for Neugent's Seat / My Platform: “Ethical Expertise”

  by Rick Boettger……. We are taking a break from detailing the individual Monroe County Commissioners’ Ethics violations to report on Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners’ meeting at the Harvey Government Center in Key West. It was a doozy. We will continue with Commissioners Kolhage (“It’s All Danny’s Fault if We Lose”) and Murphy (“His Weirdness”) in the next two weeks. For Tuesday’s meeting, I wanted to follow up on Commissioner Heather Carruthers’ assertion about it being common for the BOCC to squander hundreds of thousands of our tax [continue reading…]

 November 17, 2017  Posted by at 12:38 am * Featured Story *, ~ Column ~, Issue #243, Rick Boettger 21 Responses »
Oct 062017
 
Fantasy Fest Masquerade Marchers to Roam Key West’s Old Town Oct. 27

  Thousands of masked and costumed partiers are to unleash their free-spirited alter egos during the Fantasy Fest Masquerade March, a lively walking parade set for Friday, Oct. 27. The march through Key West’s historic Old Town is a highlight of the island city’s Fantasy Fest celebration, a lavish annual costuming and masking festival set for Friday, Oct. 20, through Sunday, Oct. 29. The 2017 festival is themed “Time Travel Unravels,” with participants encouraged to depict colorful characters from past and future eras. The masquerade march typically attracts [continue reading…]

 October 6, 2017  Posted by at 12:06 am Issue #237, Special Events, What To Do No Responses »
Jul 282017
 
Pritam Singh's 175-Room "Ocean's Edge Hotel" Sells For $175 Million

by Naja Girard……. Sunstone Hotel Investors, Inc. announced this Wednesday that it has purchased “the 175-room Oceans Edge Hotel & Marina on Stock Island for $175 million.” Ocean’s Edge Hotel has been an object of controversy in the Keys from the onset. It was pushed through as an upscale community consisting of “79 single family homes” and a small 17 room hotel. “It’s what we all want,” said developer Pritam Singh to the County’s Planning Commission, “to put our house by the water.” Each homeowner [continue reading…]

 July 28, 2017  Posted by at 12:56 am * Featured Story *, News 9 Responses »
Apr 282017
 
Two Shopping Centers

by B. Vigilant……. Key West and Marathon have both Winn Dixie and Publix grocery stores. Should Big Pine Key also have two? The County is once again being asked if a Publix can replace the Big Pine Key flea market. This raises two questions: 1- Does this area ‘need’ a second grocery store? 2- How will the required commercial floor space be obtained? Shoppers will ultimately answer the ‘need’ question based on individual opinions about parking, checkout lines, products and service. The County will answer [continue reading…]

 April 28, 2017  Posted by at 12:44 am Issue #216, Letter to the Editor 1 Response »
Feb 242017
 
Public Censure Makes George the Mayor, as Rest of Commission Is Worse Than George on Financial Reporting

by Rick Boettger……. I went to the County Commission meeting when it came to my neighborhood on Feb 15th in order to object to George Neugent, as the Commission’s honorary Mayor, giving ceremonial recognition to a local nonprofit that teaches leadership. My objection was threefold: First, they voted George in as Mayor within a month of his getting public censure and reprimand by the Florida Commission on Ethics. Second, the Commission sued the innocent members of a nonprofit board for two years, until it was [continue reading…]

 February 24, 2017  Posted by at 1:08 am * Featured Story *, ~ Column ~, Issue #207, Rick Boettger 6 Responses »
Feb 172017
 
Ocean's Edge: A Play in Four Acts

by Conch S. Fritter …….. County Commissioners appeared lost this Wednesday in the intricacies of their own laws. But for those who had followed the growing controversy over Pritam Singh’s Ocean’s Edge (175-room) Hotel the meeting looked like the last of the county’s many renditions of The Emperor’s New Clothes. The actors are real pros and they’ve played the part many times.

 February 17, 2017  Posted by at 12:54 am Island Voices, Issue #206, News 4 Responses »
Feb 102017
 
A Time-Bomb in the County's New Land Use Code?

Feb 10, 2017 Commentary by Arnaud and Naja Girard…….  Contrary to popular belief, adding one or two “lock-outs” to your home and renting them to tourists without getting any separate building allocations was legal after all! Developer, Pritam Singh, bless his soul, has shown us the way: He took 79 “permanent residential” building rights [called ROGOs] and transferred them to Oceanside Marina and, after adding 79 “lock-outs” and 17 hotel rooms, he’s now renting all 175 “units” to tourists. It could appear unlawful and it has upset a [continue reading…]

Feb 032017
 
Invitation! Tell us What it's Been Like for YOU to Get Construction Work Permitted in Monroe County

[A note from the Editor:  We don’t usually accept Letters to the Editor that are unsigned.  But we are making an exception this time.  The Blue Paper, like the anonymous author of the letter below, would like to extend an invitation to readers who have had interactions with the Monroe County Building or Planning Departments to consider sharing them on this page. Please share your thoughts and experiences, good or bad. You can use the comment section below that way we’ll keep any discourse on this subject all in [continue reading…]

 February 3, 2017  Posted by at 1:02 am News 3 Responses »
Jan 272017
 
Detectives Seek Help Locating Third Suspect in Marathon Beating

UPDATE: Friday, January 27, 2017 1:45 PM:  Two out of the three men wanted for putting a Marathon man in the hospital this past turned themselves in today. 24 year old Luis Garcia Barrera and 21 year old Carlitos Garcia were booked into jail on aggravated battery charges. The charges stem from a fight which took place early Sunday on 65th Street Oceanside in Marathon. A third man who took part in the fight is still wanted on an outstanding warrant. Detectives say they are [continue reading…]

 January 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:46 am News No Responses »
Jan 272017
 
Sheriff's Crime Report

Man arrested for gun threats on Big Coppitt Key A 21 year old Big Coppitt Key man was arrested this morning for making threats with a gun. Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call at 7:45 a.m. of a man waving a gun in the vicinity of Barcelona Drive on Big Coppitt Key. Detectives David Cruz and Spencer Curry were in the area and responded. The suspect was reported to be wearing a gold sweater and a belt with a Chrome belt buckle. They found Douby Ernest [continue reading…]

 January 27, 2017  Posted by at 12:38 am Issue #203, News, Public Notice No Responses »
Dec 302016
 
Wounded Warrior Bicycle Ride

Warriors will arrive at the VFW Post 10211 in Key Largo at Mile Marker 102 Oceanside, at approximately 8 AM, on January 6th (Friday). After gathering their bikes, they will begin their journey South on US 1 headed to Key West. First rest stop will be at Coral Shores High School. They will then continue their ride on down to Holiday Isle. After visiting the Dolphins Facility in Marathon, they will ride across the seven mile bridge. The following day, they will enter Key West [continue reading…]

 December 30, 2016  Posted by at 12:04 am Issue #199, News, Special Event No Responses »
Sep 232016
 
Florida Keys Council of the Arts Cultural Calendar

Thursday, September 22 thru Wednesday, September 28 Visit keysarts.com, Cultural Calendar for more listings and events throughout the Keys. KEY WEST HAPPENINGS Tennessee Williams Play Study with Laurie Sansom Tuesday September 27, 2016 5:00 PM  – 8:00 PM The Studios of Key West, 533 Eaton St. 305-296-0458. http://tskw.org These classes are an opportunity to read and discuss some of the short dramas by Tennessee Williams. Lead by UK theatre director Laurie Sansom, who directed the European premier of Tennessee Williams’ first full length play Spring Storm [continue reading…]

 September 23, 2016  Posted by at 12:18 am Art, Issue #185, Literature, Music, Special Events, Theater, What To Do No Responses »