After months of consideration, Beaufort City Council is preparing to take the first step to sink or launch a proposal to allow boat hotels in the Beaufort Downtown Marina.
Council meets at 5 p.m. today in the planning conference room of City Hall, 1911 Boundary St. A special voting meeting will precede a work session, and a closed session to discuss land acquisition will follow.
In addition to the first vote on whether to allow "botels," council will also vote on a memorandum of understanding with Lowcountry Legal Aid Volunteers and the fire services agreement with the town of Port Royal. Port Royal council approved that agreement last week.
The botel ordinance was introduced in December following a request by Ted Andrae of Andrae Boat Co., which owns the 93-foot yacht The Charlestonian docked at the marina.
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The marina is in a special zone designed to protect wildlife and recreational space.
During two work sessions, council has added to a staff-created list of possible restrictions for botels. The most recent list includes a limit of three botels with no more than five rooms, each with its own bathroom.
Requirements would include a city-approved site plan for proper waste disposal and an on-site manager whenever botels with more than one room are occupied. They also would need an annual U.S. Coast Guard inspection and appropriate insurance and vessel certifications. Botels would only be allowed at the marina and not in the mooring field the city is working on.
Mayor Billy Keyserling has said he opposes the idea.
"Accordingly, I plan to continue to oppose this proposal because I think it will adversely impact the character of downtown, and I believe making such a decision could potentially undermine public confidence in the substantial improvements that are on already on the way," he wrote in a newsletter released Monday.
Several residents who live in the marina have said they welcome the idea, but letters to City Council from other residents in Beaufort largely oppose the botel.
A second vote would be required before the ordinance takes effect.
Check back with The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet later today for the full story and follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.