#News: 50 units proposed for Sombrero Beach Road

Neighbors anxious over the details

On Monday, Nov. 17 the city of Marathon Planning Commission will hear the second reading of a proposed development near the top of Sombrero Beach Road. If approved the agreement will be sent to city council for final approval. The plan was tabled about a month ago to allow for finalized traffic and environmental impact studies. The hearing will make the formal determination on the question of replatting four large lots into 32 properties.

It’s a hot topic for the neighborhood and one anonymous person has gone as far as to establish a Facebook page titled “It’s Too Much,” while others have signed their names to letters to the editors. Concerns range from density to bike path safety to traffic to canal width.

Marathon resident Judy Greenman said it’s a dilemma, but one that’s easily solved provided the proper process if followed.

“I would like to make sure [the development] is not a ‘done deal’ and that the community is well informed and involved so that we can uphold the principles that the city was founded on,” she said.

Greenman said her other concerns have to do with community character and bike path safety, specifically the number of driveways that would intersect with the bike path.

“Living six homes away from the high school, I see how many of the students use that bike path — skateboarding, cycling and walking. It’s also used by athletic teams for training,” she said, adding that many other island residents from other areas of town also use the bike path for recreation.

Realtor Josh Mothner has been hired by the developer — RERR Unlimited LLC of Delaware — to consult on the proposed development. He said he’s eager for everyone to see the renderings of the proposed project.

“The developers have already reduced the number of driveways and are looking to see if they can reduce it further,” Mothner said. “Plus, they are making changes to the driveways so residents have room to turn around and won’t need to back out onto the road.”

The 50 units include 18 duplexes and 14 single-family homes built on 7.5 acres of the 10-acre property. The duplexes will share a driveway, making a total of 32 access points. Mothner said there could be as much as 60 feet between the buildings, exceeding the 5-foot setback required by city code.

“I think this is a visualization issue. I think this is going to be much nicer than people think it is,” Mothner said. “This development covers 2,800 linear feet of highway from near the intersection of Sombrero Beach Boulevard, all the way to the first existing house on the gulfside of the street. Each duplex will have lot frontage of 96 to 104 feet. That’s a lot, considering the average frontage in Marathon is about 75 feet.”

The plan calls for the single-family homes and duplexes to be interspersed along the street. The duplexes will be 1,700 square feet, per side, with four bedrooms and three bathrooms. There is no set plan for the single-family homes, as those lots will be sold to homeowners or builders.

“And not all of the homes will be built at once. The window is for this entire project to be built in three to five years,” Mothner said.

What’s currently before the Marathon Planning Board is the replatting, or subdivision, of the existing four lots for the 50-unit development. They are currently zoned residential high, and have been since the city decided on its zoning laws after incorporation.

“Current zoning for those lots allows as many as 59 units to be constructed or 185 affordable units,” said Marathon Planning Director George Garrett. “If the property would remain whole — at the four lots — than that would require a conditional use approval.”

Garrett said because they are seeking the replatting, it’s likely the lots would be available for individual ownership without, for example, a homeowners association.

The developer is also expected to submit a traffic study that includes the additional number of trips the development would generate. Garrett indicated the data collected would have no impact on nearby intersections. Garrett also said there have been two environmental impact studies performed — one by an outside consultant and the other by city staff. Mothner also added that the developer has no plans to ask the City of Marathon for gratis Transferrable Building Rights.

“The developer is seeking those rights on the TBR market,” he said.

REER Unlimited is under contract to purchase the property from a Keys entity, but the deal has not been finalized, likely because it is waiting for the development plan and conditional use approval to be approved by the City of Marathon.

Public Meeting

The City of Marathon’s Planning Commission will discuss the Sombrero Beach Road development on Monday, Nov. 17. The meeting will be held at the Marathon Government Center (not its usual location of the fire house) at 5:30 p.m. The larger venue is to accommodate the expected crowd.

Editor Sara Matthis thinks community journalism is important, but not serious; likes small and weird children (she has two); prefers target practice with a zombie rat poster; and looks best with saltwater dreads. Occasionally she tortures herself with sprint-distance triathlons, but only if she has a good chance of beating her sister.

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