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Sarasota Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022 5 months ago

City advances plan to add 30 docks to Sarasota Yacht Club

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Three existing dock structures will be rebuilt and a fourth added.
by: Eric Garwood Managing Editor

A project to rebuild three docks at Sarasota Yacht Club and add a fourth alongside neighboring Plymouth Harbor's property gained approval last month from the city's Planning and Zoning Board.

The measure, which was also backed by city staff, could reach the City Commission for final consideration as early as Jan. 18.

With a 5-0 vote, the Sarasota Planning and Zoning Board advanced the proposal, which would not just update club docking and fueling facilities but also add 30 additional wet slips and space for a youth sailing squadron.

The changes would bring the club to 134 permanent slips and 13 transient slips. According to city documents, the proposed docks will consist of a fixed wooden pier/platform which will extend out approximately 75 feet from the shoreline and then ramp down to floating docks.

The club’s fueling station will also undergo renovations though remain in its grandfathered-in position. “It’s something you don’t want to be old and antiquated because it impacts on water quality," said Alexis Crespo, a land-use planner with Waldrop Engineering, which is working with Turrell Hall and Associates in representing the club.

The club on the south side of John Ringling Causeway east of St. Armands Circle isn’t planning any changes to its landside buildings. The property has been in operation since the 1960s but underwent a large-scale renovation in 2010 when the land was rezoned from single-family residential classification to its current classification. Docks are allowed, though conditional-use approval is required, which is what board members approved along with the site plan.

According to engineers and project planners speaking for the club, vessels will remain at the club throughout the process, initially moving from dock 1 on the easternmost portion of the property to the newly built dock 4, shifting positions from existing to new structures until the project wraps up.

“That’d be a nightmare to try to find a home for everyone," said Jeff Rogers, a partner with Turrell, Hall and Associates. “That’s one of the driving factors of dock 4."

Fueling operations, which take place on dock 2, will be suspended while work there proceeds, “We’ll put (the fuel dock) into operation as fast as we possibly can," said Josh Maxwell, chief engineer for Turrell, Hall and Associates. “It’s usually one of the few revenue sources for marinas."

No additional landside parking is planned. Sarasota Senior Planner Brianne Dobbs said the facility already includes 61 more parking spaces than required by city formulas that are based on building square footage rather than the number of boat docks.

Rogers said there are prospective users of the new boat docks who are already social members of the club, indicating additional capacity for docking wouldn’t necessarily drive up vehicle parking needs or the number of vehicle trips in and out of the property beyond an estimated 5.5 trips. 

“It sounds like they are not adding additional members, that these are people who already frequent the club and they seem to have enough parking," Dobbs said, adding she had recently visited the property. “That feels confident.”

Planning and Zoning Board Chair Kathy Kelly Ohlrich asked the representatives of the yacht club why operators of neighboring Plymouth Harbor co-applied for the conditional-use approval. 

Rogers explained the two organizations have years of cooperation between them, and the fourth dock falls within Plymouth Harbor's shoreline property, which are often referred to as riparian right. An agreement exists between the club and Plymouth Harbor to build within the residential community's underwater property.

A small dock belonging to Plymouth Harbor exists in the footprint of the proposed fourth dock, and Rogers said the overall project would benefit both organizations. 

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