Salty Fare owner withdraws controversial zoning request

tbarton@islandpacket.comSeptember 17, 2013 

A waterfront property owner has withdrawn a controversial zoning request for Wave Runner tours and other watercraft activities after facing staunch opposition from residents of The Cypress of Hilton Head.

Salty Fare Landing owner Kittredge Collins withdrew his application Tuesday, just hours before a vote on the issue by Town Council.

Collins, however, said he intends to reapply for approval to operate ferry service from the property off Squire Pope Road.

In an email to council, Collins said he pulled his request in a quest to compromise with Cypress and Hilton Head Plantation residents, but still had strong words for the town and his "adversaries."

"The objections to my application are designed to serve their interests over and above not only my property rights, but to the detriment of the business community of Hilton Head Island," he wrote. "... A Town Council can not allow itself to endorse such behavior."

Meanwhile, the town will move to revoke the business license of a watersports company operating there, said town manager Steve Riley. The business license was issued in error, he said.

Residents of The Cypress, a community in Hilton Head Plantation near the landing, have lobbied for months to shut down the business.

They say noise from Wave Runner rentals at the nearby dock disturbs the quiet of their neighborhood. No noise complaints, however, have been made to the town, said town staff attorney Brian Hulbert. The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office responded to one call this year about an unspecified disturbance at the location, according to dispatch records.

"There's no good reason why I should not be allowed to operate here," said Michael Moy, owner of On the Water Hilton Head, who leases the dock from Collins. "... It's on a commercial piece of property on the waterfront with a dock and pier, surrounded by the same thing."

In February, Moy began renting six Wave Runners from the dock after securing a town business license.

But when another vendor sought a license for a parasailing operation at Salty Fare, town officials realized they granted Moy's license in error. The property needed to be rezoned, town staff said.

Salty Fare serves as an embarkation point for Daufuskie Island ferries and offers kayak, paddleboard and Jet Ski rentals; charter fishing; and boat tours -- none of which are allowed under current zoning. They would have been allowed under the rezoning, along with parasail tours and other similar activities.

Council's Planning & Development Standards Committee voted Aug. 28 to recommend the request be denied, despite an Aug. 7 vote in favor of the request by the town's Planning Commission.

Town staff also endorsed the request.

Committee chairman John McCann said the zoning request was too open-ended, with no stipulations on the number or type of commercial operators who could use the dock.

"The dock was built and approved for ferry service. It wasn't built for an open-ended thing to be used for other purposes," he said Tuesday. The possibility that Moy may lose his business "wasn't enough for us to make an exception to the code. Because you make a mistake, doesn't mean it's right."

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom

Related Content:

Wave Runner rentals might be docked for good off Salty Fare Landing: Aug. 28, 2013

Developer slides out of idea for Hilton Head water park: Sept. 5, 2012

On the Water Hilton Head

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