Marco Island Yacht Club to harbor big luxury yachts after council grants permits

Marco Island Yacht Club will build more than two dozen slips to harbor 50- to 125-foot-long luxury yachts after City Council unanimously passed two resolutions Monday approving the club's requests.

"There is a very large demand in Southwest Florida for these boats and currently there is not a lot of slips available for them on the island," said Joshua Maxwell, chief engineer with Turrell, Hall & Associates.

David Everitt, chairman of the board of directors of the club, said Wednesday the council's resolutions and other federal, state and local permits acquired by the club allows them to start building the marina. 

Jon Holt, a project development committee member and a club member, wrote in an email that the club is waiting for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to return a signed copy of the permit after the club agreed to the agency's terms.

Everitt said the construction may be completed as early as December.

"By this time next year we should be operational," Holt said Wednesday.

The new dock extension would protrude 362 feet into the Marco River waterway, adjacent to the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge, according to a city report.

Rendering shows a proposed  27-slip dock that would harbor 50 to 125-foot-long luxury yachts in the Marco Island Yacht Club.

The dock's extension was approved by the city's planning board Dec. 4, and it did not need council approval, according to Daniel Smith, director of community affairs of the city's growth management department.

"The boat dock extension portion only requires planning board approval for community facility zoned property per code," Smith wrote in an email Thursday.

The proposed dock and slips will replace a smaller fixed dock and gazebo that until recently were located on the eastern side of the lot on 1400 North Collier Boulevard.

The Marco Island Marina Association, which shares parking with the club, manages more than 100 boat slips, four of which are owned by the club, Everitt said.

The $6 million project includes 27 slips, dredging and a new seawall, according to the club. Most of the slips will be leased, and five will be for boaters visiting the club.

Lease owners will be able to sublease their slips when they are not using them, and the club will be responsible for doing maintenance dredging, according to a city report.

In 2008, the city approved a smaller version of the project, but Everitt said the club postponed its plans as a result of the economic recession.

More:Marco Island Yacht Club celebrates its 20th anniversary

The proposed docks would be larger and protrude farther into the waterway than what was previously approved in 2008 by approximately 43 feet to accommodate bigger vessels, according to a city report

"With the new plan we have extended the slip sizes and eliminated the slips on the eastern side, closer to MIMA," Maxwell said.

The club has roots that go back to the 1960s, when a small, one-story wooden clubhouse was built on the lot, according to its website. Two decades later he clubhouse burned to the ground.

In 1998, the Marco Island Yacht and Sailing Club was established, and it was sold in 2001, giving way to the Marco Island Yacht Club.

The club offers dining and sailing classes and hosts social events.

While some residents, including club members, spoke in support of the expansion, others shared concerns about insufficient parking, boating safety, water quality and views of the water.

Wayne Woodring, who owns a house across the canal on Martinique Court, said the club's dock extension would block his view of the bay on the other side of the Jolley bridge.

"I'm totally losing my view," Woodring said.

A city report says "there will be minimal impact of neighbors’ views."

Everitt said Wednesday that the boats in the new marina could partially block Woodring's view.

"It's not like somebody is erecting a big wall out there," Everitt said.

The S.S. Jolley Bridge is seen from the Marco Island Yacht Club on Jan. 6, 2021.

Jill Kiley, who lives two houses down from Woodring, said the dock extension is contrary to the city's vision of keeping its "small-town charm" and "natural environment."

"This proposal does nothing to enhance or benefit Marco Island nor its residents. It only serves to provide a source of income for the yacht club," Kiley said.

John Nevelis, an island resident, said the construction of the marina would negatively impact the water quality in the area.

"The fishing has gotten worse every year. I just don't see how this is going to help the water quality," Nevelis said.

Island resident Edgar "Ed" Issler said he had concerns about water flow.

"Let's have our (city) expert analyze the impact to our canals that is going to take place from this project," Issler said.

Maxwell said he is not concerned that the new dock would block water flow because most of the boat slips would be floating docks.

"The water is able to go underneath the docks, between the boats, and adequately circulate in and out of the marina," Maxwell said.

The club's operations and management plan includes guidelines for fueling and in-water boat cleaning among other measures to reduce harm to the environment. Engine repair and maintenance won't be allowed in the facilities.

A Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit allows for minor in-water repairs and those needed during emergencies but prohibits fuel tanks and pumps.

"The approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida DEP really demonstrates that there should not be any discernible environmental impacts associated with the project," City Councilor Richard Blonna said at Monday's council meeting.

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