So as you know, the proposed Coral Bay marina has been a pretty hot topic both on and off island lately. Well today we wanted to share some information with you that leads us to believe that this marina is facing an uphill battle due to environmental concerns. Just to recap, the Coastal Zone Management committee has 30 days following last Wednesday’s meeting to either approve or deny the permit. Here’s the latest…
Jean-Pierre Oriel, Director of CZM, contacted both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the US Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service and asked for their comments on the Summer’s End Marina proposal. Here’s a few items taken directly from their responses:
From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association…
“… as we expressed after reviewing the previous version of the marina, which consisted only of a marina for smaller vessels … we continue to have concerns regarding the potential project impacts to seagrass beds and water quality in the bay. In response to the past permit application for a smaller marina, we had recommended that the applicant explore avoidance and minimization of project impacts to seagrass, including through alternatives such as the construction of a marina at an alternate location. Instead, when Summer’s End acquired the property, they proposed a larger project that includes the currently proposed marina for small vessels and vessels up to 120 feet in the South Club and up to 80 feet in the North Club based on notes in our project file.”
“ … the project has gotten larger rather than smaller, resulting in greater impacts to benthic habitat that is used by sea turtles as well as creating the potential for greater water quality impacts in the bay, which contains habitat for ESA-listed and proposed corals in addition to sea turtles. For this reason, we continue to have concerns regarding this project. As part of the federal permit process, a Section 7 consultation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) will be required.”
“… the project may require an essential fish habitat (EFH) consultation with NMFS Habitat Conservation Division (HCD) as part of the federal permit process. By letter dated June 2, 2006, NMFS HCD provided comments to the USACE in response to a previous major land and water application for a small boat marina only in the same location. At the time, NMFS HCD had significant concerns regarding the proposed marina and associated impacts to the dense seagrass beds in the area, as well as potential impacts to water quality.”
Click the following link to read NOAA’s entire response: NOAA Response
From the Fish and Wildlife Service…
“While the applicant states that there are not wetlands in the project site, there are special aquatic sites such as seagrass beds which are regulated by the Clean Water Act.”
“A total of 2500 square feet of marine bottom will be directly impacted by the placements of piles; however the entire footprint of the project should be considered for impacts.”
Regarding the Summer’s End Group’s proposed mitigation plans, the Fish and Wildlife Service does not think think the plans are adequate.
Lastly, the Fish and Wildlife Service stated that the permit should not be issued until its concerns and recommendations are adequately addressed.
Click the following link to read the Fish and Wildlife Service’s entire response: Fish and Wildlife Service Response