By Mike Lednovich
Two hotels are seeking to connect access with each other by constructing a walkover on a 17-foot high secondary dune that would require taking down trees and the possible relocation of turtles on city right-of-way property on First Avenue.
The City Commission is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the proposal by Ocean Coast Hotel and Amelia Hotel at the Beach for permission to build the walkway across the mile-long, heavily wooded, secondary dune located just north of Sadler Road on First Avenue.
“The hotels would like a license (a revocable privilege) to build a pedestrian connection boardwalk on the right-of-way to link the two hotel properties that is open to the general public,” states the resolution summary in the city commission meeting packet. “The City can terminate this license agreement for the boardwalk at any time that the City determines public improvements are needed in the First Avenue right-of-way, and the Grantee is responsible for maintenance of the pedestrian connection.”
According to the city, the hotels are owned by the same company.
The proposed agreement does not provide answers on how the construction of the walkway would impact the undisturbed wildlife corridor and secondary dune.
Commissioner Chip Ross surveyed the right-of-way property and sent an email last Thursday to Interim City Manager Charlie George and City Attorney Tammi Bach asking for answers to the following questions that are not addressed in the agreement:
– The proposed “boardwalk” goes from elevation 1 to elevation 17 [see attached] on what appears to be a secondary dune. How will the “boardwalk” address the 17-foot elevation distance?
– How will the installation of the “boardwalk” affect the stability of the secondary dune that is in the right-of-way?
– How will erosion of the secondary dune be prevented?
– What is the environmental impact?
– How wide will the “building site” be?
– Will the gopher turtles (Federally listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act), if present, need to be relocated?
– How will the existing trees be preserved?
As of noon, Monday, Ross said he had not received a response to his questions from George or Bach.
Ross also asked about legal issues not addressed in the proposed agreement.
-Will the two parking lots that are being connected have unlimited public access?
– How much of the area is available for the “license”?
– What happens if ownership of the properties change?
– Who will remove the “boardwalk” if the agreement is terminated?
– Who will restore the land to its original state if the agreement is terminated?
– How will ADA issues be addressed?
– How will the city be aware if the “boardwalk” is being maintained?
– The agreement does not state that the agreement does not constitute abandonment of the ROW. Should that be included?
– The agreement states the city “owns” the ROW. I do not believe that is correct.
– The severability clause states that if part of the agreement is found to be illegal, invalid or unenforceable then the remainder of the agreement is not affected. Why not state if any part is found to be illegal, invalid, or unenforceable the entire agreement is terminated?
Ross said he has also not received answers to those questions.
The proposal is item 6.2 on the city commission agenda. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m.