February 16, 2023 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m.

The Gadfly attended the February 16, 2023 Camden County Commission meeting at 10:00 a.m.

All three commissioners were present.

This meeting was held over at the Camden County Developmental Disability Office Building. There was a pretty good crowd there because it was a also a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

The first agenda item was P&Z Potential Re-zoning.

This was for an application to re-zone a large lakefront R-1 parcel to B-2.

Brian Downey, the applicant, spoke before the Commission. He stated that he wants to expand the existing marina. He disputed claims by local residents that the marina is part of The Villages development. According to Downey, most of the renters of the marina slips do not live in The Villages. The marina was permitted for 256 slips in the 1990’s. It currently has 54 slips and they are all rented.

This lot is also adjacent to another lot that is zoned for high density residential dwelling. It was originally zoned for a hotel, but Downey hopes to build multi-family housing and single family homes there.

Commissioner Gohagan asked Downey if his purchase of the property was contingent on the marina property being re-zoned. Downey confirmed that this was true.

Several residents from the neighborhood spoke in opposition to the re-zone. I’ll summarize their complaints about it.

One resident voiced concerns about the current condition of roads leading into the area from MM. The roads are already falling apart and more traffic would only make them worse.

Another resident stated that the marina was intended to provide boat slips for second tier residents of The Villages. He said that most people were fine with the plan for a marina, but granting the owner B-2 zoning would drastically expand what could be done with the property.

(This is a common concern for neighbors when a property is re-zoned to B-2. There are simply no guarantees that a B-2 zoned property will be developed the way the the owner promised once it is re-zoned unless the owner agrees to a deed restriction.)

Downey responded to some of the residents’ comments. He plans to rebuild the road from MM and add a turn lane. Overnight boat stays are currently permitted at the marina. He wants to expand the marina, but he can’t expand it unless the property is re-zoned. He disputed the idea that the marina was intended to provide slips for The Villages.

Commissioner Williams made a motion to approve the zoning change and it was approved unanimously.

(During hearings on this re-zone, there was some dispute about whether this marina property was designed and zoned to provide boat slips for The Villages. The website for The Villages seems to indicate that it provides slips for The Villages and the road leading to it on GIS is called Villages Harbour Drive (I love the fancy European spelling).

It does look like that is what the property was intended to provide. However, I’m not sure if that matters, because it seemed like the majority of the complaints were coming from people who live across the cove from the marina.)

Once that item was over, the room cleared out pretty quick, but there was still one last re-zone request.

This was at 745 Chimney Point in Sunrise Beach. The request was for a re-zone from R-1 to B-2. The applicant wanted to continue to operate a boat storage facility and it sounded like this was an existing business that had been incorrectly zoned. He plans to eventually seek a limited use permit to allow a caretaker to live on the property.

Nobody else was for or against it, so the Commission unanimously approved this re-zone.

The final agenda item was Soft Water – Courthouse.

Commissioner Skelton stated that low water pressure in the courthouse has prevented water from reaching the third floor. They need a new pump to increase the water pressure. They also want to have soft water in the courthouse to increase the longevity of the plumbing.

Apparently, the jail already has soft water. (I had to laugh a little at that, but I guess the jail probably has more sinks, toilets, and showers than the courthouse.)

The Commission voted unanimously to send out a request for quote for a new water pump and a soft water system for the courthouse.

So it looks like the county employees at the courthouse are finally going to enjoy the same water quality as the county inmates. Now that’s progress.

And that was that.

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