Set to come before the Planning Board on December 16th is an agenda item involving the potential limiting of public access and waterfront view to the Bight, as well as, possibly changing the protected character and nautical charm of the Key West Historical Seaport itself.
Currently the 1.23 property, also known as 700 Front St., with a wooden plank boardwalk fronting A&B Lobster House, Wahlburgers, and the Bel Mare restaurants are in a unique preservation and protected zone in place since 1991 (known as HRCC-2) which prohibits- non water related retail and preserves waterfront access and views.
The applicant/attorney, Barton Smith, along with his partners out of Chicago wish to abolish these protections, and rezone this property to a HRCC-1 zone, which permits as a “matter of right” high density retail stores, transient rentals, and strip bars etc. In addition, it would abolish guaranteed waterfront views and access to the general public.
This city has a proud tradition of preserving its public access to the waterfront and thirty years ago passed a bond, spearheaded by Commissioner Jimmy Weekly, buying up many of the properties surrounding the Bight, which now include, Half Shell Raw Bar, Schooner Wharf, Waterfront Brewery, Lazy Way Lane etc. This long tradition of public access to our natural resources is imbedded in the City’s Comprehensive Plan and should never be changed for this generation and the generations to come.
The Planning Department is not recommending this re-zoning, nor am I, as an individual member of the Planning Board. Please let your voices be heard on this most important subject matter by leaving an e-comment on the Planning Board Agenda or attending the upcoming meeting.