Council sinks proposal for floating boat hotel in Beaufort marina

emoody@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 19, 2013 

In this file photo, boats are moored at the Beaufort Downtown Marina near The Charlestonian, second from right, a 93-foot-yacht the owner seeks to turn into a boat hotel.

SARAH WELLIVER — Sarah Welliver, staff photo

  • In other business, council:

  • Approved a fire-services agreement with the town of Port Royal. The town approved the contract last week. The municipalities have shared services for about two decades, and this is a formal update of what Mayor Billy Keyserling called a "handshake agreement."

  • Approved a memorandum of understanding with Lowcountry Legal Aid Volunteers that allows the organization to use the jury-deliberation room in Municipal Court.

  • Approved adjustments to the city budget related to updating audio/visual equipment at Municipal Court and the purchases and sales of vehicles for the police and planning departments.

  • Met in executive session to discuss land acquisition.

  • Heard a presentation from Beaufort County assessor Ed Hughes about the ongoing reassessment.

  • Heard a report on the Beaufort History Museum's business plan, budget and calendar.

After months of consideration and discussion, Beaufort City Council torpedoed a proposal Tuesday to allow boat hotels in the Beaufort Downtown Marina.

Council voted 4-1, with Councilman Mike Sutton the sole vote in favor, against making an ordinance change that would allow the "botels."

The ordinance was introduced in December following a request by Ted Andrae of Andrae Boat Co., which owns the 93-foot yacht The Charlestonian that is docked at the marina.

The marina is in a special zone designed to protect wildlife and recreational space.

Each council member had his or her own reasons for voting no.

George O'Kelley Jr. was concerned parking for guests would take up too much space in the marina parking lot needed for downtown employees and visitors.

Donnie Beer does not think the city's dock can withstand the wear and tear of large ships.

Mike McFee said he was swayed by numerous letters and comments from residents who opposed the idea.

Mayor Billy Keyserling said botels don't fit his vision of the waterfront and marina.

Sutton attempted to table the motion because he said a family crisis kept Andrae from attending. He argued that council's action is stopping someone who wants to bring business to Beaufort.

Criticism about the boat's appearance also upset Sutton.

"We can't stop him from using that boat, and it's not right for this council or any government to tell someone they can't use something because it's ugly," he said.

He also said that the lengthy list of restrictions staff and council created make it nearly impossible for anyone except Andrae to operate.

During two work sessions, council added to a staff-created list of possible restrictions for botels. The most recent list would have allowed a maximum of three botels within the city, each with no fewer than three and no more than five rooms, each room with its own bathroom. Each room also would need its own parking space in the marina lot.

Other requirements would have included a city-approved waste-disposal plan and an on-site manager whenever more than one room was occupied. Botels would have been restricted to the marina and would not have been allowed in the city's planned mooring field.

Residents Edie Rodgers and Cynthia Cook spoke against the ordinance before the vote.

"A few decisions by a few people can change the ambiance and the things we love about this small town ... for forever," Cook said.

Rodgers said that although she is part of a "handful" of folks who consistently show up to oppose changes to the waterfront area -- among them a day dock expansion and a proposed water-sports center -- she is not alone.

"There's lots of people out there who agree with our position on these items that we don't feel are in the best interests of Beaufort," she said.

Rodgers brought a postcard she received recently, showing the downtown's waterfront vista and displayed it on the overhead projector. The sender told her to enjoy the picture because it will never be the same with additions like the day dock.

Related content

  1. List of possible Beaufort 'botel' restrictions continues to grow, Jan. 22, 2013
  2. Beaufort marina boat hotel proposal faces additional restrictions, Jan. 8, 2013
  3. Port Royal OK's fire services agreement with Beaufort, Feb. 14, 2013

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