MARATHON DEVELOPMENT: 21 NEW UNITS & NEW MARINE EDUCATION FACILITY APPROVED

The Marathon Planning Commission has recommended for approval an amended conditional use permit for Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters. WEEKLY FILE PHOTO

On Aug. 16, the Marathon Planning Commission put its stamp of approval on two projects in Marathon — 21 new units on Coco Plum on Pescayo Avenue and a 24,000-square-foot marine educational facility at Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters. Both were granted conditional use permits. 

The Pescayo Avenue project consists of three duplexes and 15 market rate homes for a total of 21 units. The development is located on the west side of Coco Plum Drive and is opposite the canal from Shelter Bay Marine boatyard. 

The three affordable duplexes will be built nearer the intersection of Coco Plum Drive and Pescayo Avenue. Only the middle unit will be accessed from Pescayo Avenue and the other two will be accessed from Coco Plum Drive. Guillermo Torres assured the commission there was adequate room for parking and for tenants to turn around before exiting onto Coco Plum Drive. 

Attorney Bart Smith, representing Torres, said the project is a good, low-density option for the neighborhood. Smith’s only request was that the commission okay the plans for docks before the project moves on for permitting by the Army Corps of Engineers. He said that working with Shelter Bay Marine, they agreed the docks would run parallel to shore and extend no more than 5 feet into the canal, except where they would only extend 4 feet when closest to the boatyard. 

Neighbor Michelle Perdomo spoke in favor of the project. 

“We are in full support. Guillermo Torres built our home and we are pleased with what the new project will look like. We have no concerns,” she said. 

Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters received a conditional use permit to create a second floor in its educational facility to be built on the north end of the property. The footprint is about 500 square feet less than initially proposed and approved earlier this year, but will include a second floor, increasing the square footage from about 15,000 square feet to almost 25,000 square feet. The previous proposal, and this one, both call for a height of less than 42 feet tall, which is allowed by code. 

The project is being contested by the homeowners association at the adjacent Seapoint View Condos, as well as another organization that protects endangered species, both represented by attorney Nicholas Mulick. Seapoint View homeowner and attorney Bart Valdes also spoke at length about traffic patterns, truck turnarounds and overflow parking. The opposition’s main objection about the new facility was how it fits in with the surrounding neighborhood. 

“It is inconsistent with community character,” said Sandra Walters, an ecological and environmental consultant. 

In the end, the planning commission approved both conditional use projects unanimously and forwarded their recommendation for a final ruling from the Marathon City Council. 

The planning commission also passed a law outlawing mobile vendors immediately adjacent to Sombrero Beach on Sombrero Beach Road. It is the exception to the current law that allows food trucks to stop in residential neighborhoods on any city right-of-way for up to 10 minutes. 

“Can you give us any details on the problem?” asked Planning Commissioner Mary Ann Royse.

“The ice cream man,” replied Marathon Planning Director Brian Shea. 

“There have been multiple, multiple, multiple complaints,” said Marathon City Attorney Steve Williams, “and an altercation recently. We have to do more than we have.”

Royse was the lone “no” vote on the amendment to the food truck law that was passed 4-1. She later explained that it was more appropriate to use other enforcement alternatives than to rewrite the law to target one mobile food vendor. 

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Sara Matthis thinks community journalism is important, but not serious; likes weird and wonderful children (she has two); and occasionally tortures herself with sprint-distance triathlons, but only if she has a good chance of beating her sister.