by Bill Hunter…….
The jury’s out on adequate parking but the developer certainly gets ‘Landscaper of the Year Award.’ A gravel parking lot is now beautiful residences. The occupants are not our children or workforce. These residences house tourists. A consequence of redevelopment is the loss of the working part of a waterfront marina leaving a 175 room tourist hotel and the condominium slips created long ago.
A land use planning background helps with the math but from what I’ve read, the numbers don’t add up. Each hotel room needs a transient ROGO and with a County moratorium on new ones, the existing transient ROGOs have to be moved around. Over the past decade, the additions, deletions and modifications of the original development agreement for this marina make tracking these ROGOs very difficult but somehow the County seems to have agreed to a 175 room hotel built primarily from Affordable Housing Incentive Program ROGOs.
Late last year, County Commissioners learned that new affordable projects ‘in the pipeline’ will exceed the affordable ROGOs available. These pipeline projects are new housing that meets wind and flood requirements with brand new everything. The marina’s development agreement uses the ‘Affordable Housing Incentive Program’ to deed restrict old ground level mobile homes for 99 years and free up the building rights. Yes, the incentive program stems the loss of these old mobile homes, but the affordable ROGO no longer enables new housing. Mobile homes parks can be deed restricted at close to breakeven cost while building affordables is expensive and hotel rooms flip for almost one million dollars.
The revolving door of government enables past officials to write complicated legislation for less experienced staffers – legislation approved by decision makers who may not realize the devil in the details. This marina development agreement goes back a decade to previous staffers and decision makers. That torturous approval path can be understood but will our current County planning team and decision makers decide that once again, an affordable ROGO will become two hotel rooms. The deep water marina on Little Torch has requested the same development agreement.