Photo by DAVID ALBERS, Staff // Buy this photo
NAPLES — A proposed private boat dock and boat basin just inside Gordon Pass had drawn objections from neighbors and some Naples Bay boaters for years, but it won city approval Wednesday with barely a whimper of protest.
"We're glad to finally be here and find this is a non-event," said Bob Diffenderfer, an attorney who represented the group that wants to build the project at the estate of investment company founder and GOP fundraiser host Jack Donahue at the foot of Gordon Drive.
Earlier plans for a larger eight-slip floating dock drew a legal challenge from neighbors Bill Bindley and Joe Semrod and the Port Royal Property Owners Association. They said it would change the character of the neighborhood and create a navigation hazard on Naples Bay.
That challenge was eventually dropped, and a new plan was hatched: a smaller floating dock that doesn't jut as far into the bay and a new canal leading to a boat basin carved out of part of the Donahue estate.
The Naples City Council voted unanimously to approve the new plans, which still are waiting for permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
An attorney for Bindley and Semrod wrote to the City Council last month to say they support the new project with a change in legal documents that says the dock and boat basin is to be used only by the estate's owners and can't be rented or leased to anyone else.
Bindley, Semrod and a representative of the Port Royal Property Owners Association couldn't be reached for comment about the City Council vote. They didn't attend Wednesday's hearing.
The new project also has the support of the city's Natural Resources Manager Mike Bauer, who wrote in a memo to the City Council that no oyster or seagrass beds would be dug up by the project.
An engineering study, backed by DEP reviewers, found the new basin would flush adequately and wouldn't cause erosion or alter natural flows of water in the area.
The floating dock, which would be built parallel to the shoreline, would be 110 feet long and come as close as 125 feet to the bay's navigation channel.
A new L-shaped boat basin would be almost 60 feet wide at its entrance off Naples Bay and would run for almost 250 feet across Donahue's estate, roughly doubling in width at its western end, plans show.
Naples Mayor John Sorey complimented Donahue on the alternative, which Sorey said is more expensive but avoided a neighborhood feud.
"I think they've done a good job," Sorey said. "Mr. Donahue just didn't want it to be a hassle and a disagreement."