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    County rejects dock in Sutherland Bayou

    Though a developer worked with county officials on the plan, it was rejected 6-0.

    By EDIE GROSS

    © St. Petersburg Times, published December 7, 2000


    OZONA -- A developer's request to build a 10-slip dock in Sutherland Bayou was denied Tuesday by county commissioners, who said they worried about the project's impact on the narrow waterway.

    David F. Ramsey, developer of Ryan's Woods townhomes, wanted the 289-foot dock to curve around some protected wetlands and jut nearly 63 feet into the waterway. The first 10 owners in the 21-townhome development would have been eligible to use the slips.

    But commissioners, who heard from opponents and supporters Tuesday afternoon, voted 6-0 against the project. Ramsey, who originally wanted 21 slips in the dock, could still modify his request and bring it back.

    "I personally think what's proposed here is a little intense," said Commissioner Barbara Sheen Todd.

    County environmental management officials worked with Ramsey for months to come up with a proposal that would allow his waterfront community access to the bayou without damaging nearby mangroves and other sensitive areas.

    The end result was environmentally friendly, said Environmental Management Director Will Davis. But the plan also put the dock only 3 feet from another resident's property line when county rules dictate that it needed to be 205.7 feet away. That resident objected.

    "We did go through a lot of alternatives, and frankly this probably is the least impacting," Davis told commissioners. "It is a huge variance, but it is the only place staff could find where this dock could fit."

    Several neighbors said the dock would destroy the beauty of the bayou.

    "It's just an enormous structure," said Jim Zedalis. "It's like having a small marina in your backyard. It's just too great an impact."

    "On a canal, you expect docks. You expect some older boats," added nearby resident Jack Heyman. "But a bayou to me ought to be something we're preserving in Florida."

    But residents of Ryan's Woods pointed out that plenty of other waterfront property owners already have docks on Sutherland Bayou.

    "It's a waterway and we want to enjoy it just like our neighbors do," said Christine Marrone.

    Dean Markley, the first resident of Ryan's Woods, said he and his neighbors would treat the waterway with respect.

    "We're not children who are going to go out and roughhouse on Jet Skis," Markley said.

    Commissioners said they respected the residents' wishes to have access to the bayou, but they worried the channel would not be able to stand the impact. They urged Ramsey to change his proposal.

    "I think it sends a message that we want something different," Commissioner Karen Seel said. "I'd like to see something substantially different."

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