pier fees

Posted By: Diane Campbell

pier fees - 04/13/08 03:11 PM

I'd like to share some general thoughts on piers, and some specific comments on residential piers in areas outside the town itself where road access ranges from dubious to impossible.

PLANS AND PROGRAMS ------- I agree that chock-ablock pier after pier is not so pretty ......... but don't the people of this island deserve some input on a plan. How can it hurt anything to listen to people express their ideas on how to make it work better and to share the impact of a general decision on their own lives. Public vetting of such a major plan might just yield good ideas. We will always need and probably always have some piers, so let's not suddenly decide that they are something horrible.

SWIMMING and piers - there is little if any shore-swimming available along the shores of the caye. Water is shallow and seabottom in most places is either:
1. seagrass which provides fish habitat
2. grungy silt that swallows your feet and legs.
The old style pier with kraal was a safe and protected way for people to get in the water, and stay away from boats. A kraal was an integral part of a pier and something people appreciated and enjoyed. Look at the folks who get in the water in town or anyplace else ---- where there is a swimmer-friendly pier, that is where they swim. The only other deep water area is the river which is an accident waiting to happen.


In town --- I am not sure what (if any) provision exists for recommended distances between piers in town - it would appear that nobody has made(or enforced) any real plan, and that a plan would benefit everybody. Somehow I think it would benefit the people of this island to be able to discuss and understand a proposal before it is slammed down on them. Autocratic decision making on this kind of sweeping level is not good for anybody.
It is also strange to me to see that the the idea is to get rid of piers on the east side for environmental reasons, and then to have MORE of them on the west side where we have mangroves and all those great old tarpon. The access to the lagoon in back is via the river which is already barly able to handle it's traffic load safely....... what about that and what is essentialy a one-lane passage under the bridge?

Outlying residential areas - at one time the allowable space between piers in residential areas was 1,500 feet. That was 15 years ago. Seems to me that the present recommendation for 300 feet is a bit close but that is a done deal and is at least a place to start.

This is an island and it is a water-based society. There is a need for piers in a water-based society. Given the lack of roads in many areas, and the impassibility of the few that exist outside the town core, a pier is not a luxury as some would suggest, but is a necessity for safety and daily life.

SAFETY - If you are injured do you really propose that a person ride 5 or even 10 miles in a golf cart to town?!
SAFETY - Ask yourself if you lived 4 or 6 miles outside of San Pedro TODAY - not some mythical time when some mythical plan for a better island is formulated ...........but now and in the forseeable furture - do we realy believe that it is safe to be riding a dirt track through brush at night(and in some areas even in the day) with no lights, no services, no police nearby.......How many muggings have you heard of on the Island Ferry or on a water taxi?? None that I know of.

SAFETY - try getting off this island when a hurricane threatens - we are dead ducks without boats and we need a place to keep them -------- we need a place to keep them where we can see them so as to take proper care of them, including protecting them from theft.

SAFETY - Didn't we just hear from the police that they need boats to serve outlying areas because land transportation does not provide ready access.


Pier fees, fine. Make them reasonable.

Then enforce the distances between piers according to a sensible and sustainable plan. Then enforce the permit conditions.

The language in residential permits varies, but essentially the message is that you are licensed to use the seabed for a pier under these conditions:

1. build a pier at your cost insuring that it does not cause a safety or navigation hazzard - fair enough

2. insure & maintain it at your cost - fair enough

3. allow access to the public for deliveries and recreational activities, to leave open the entire north side for public parking ........

the provisions above are an interesting way to balance needs and expenditures and to encourage private parties to provide public benefit and the idea of neighbors sharing and working together --- but NOT if the fees to do so are at the level being noted in the recent press release.

In this case the announced fees for residential piers DO NOT reflect the benefits to the individual who is essentially providing a NECESSARY service as part of their receiving a permit.

If we have selfish people building spaces from which they exclude reasonable access, we already have permit clauses that say they are in violation of the permit. Charging them more is not going to encourage compliance ---- it is just going to create an even more adversarial situation where we all loose.

Posted By: weile

Re: pier fees - 04/15/08 12:00 AM

I absolutely agree with you Diane, but who ever spends 60K on a pier should of course have the right to the ownership of the actual hardwood boards that the gerenal public (according to law) have access to between 6 am and 6 pm; and thereby be able to (politely) ask people not to trash it with heavy deliveries and fish guts.

Over the past few years it has been a problem that people think that a pier permit automatically comes with a dredging permit, and that has caused quite a bit of damage to our beaches. Also, many of the piers constructed lately feature hideous structures, which are blocking the reef view and are making the coastline look less than pretty.

I do not like that the town board (or who ever is in charge of this) start out by issuing a moratirium on piers, only to follow up with a huge fee for piers, basically stating once again that if you pay enough you can get what you want.

A fee for "private" piers is OK, but at the same time it should be automatically approved and free of fees, if someone wants to erect a community pier at an approved public easement. That way residents and businesses that are not located on the beach front can secure access and pay their own way.
Posted By: Amanda Syme

Re: pier fees - 04/15/08 06:23 PM

I agree with many of the points Diane and Ebbe have brought up - however - since a pier is not always a luxury but a necessity in some areas who will determine who can and cannot have a pier? If you already have a pier and nobody on 300 ft either side of you is permitted to have a pier the neighbours will be forced to utilize your pier which essentially converts this into a community pier and therefore I would think this would then become a co-operative arrangement with no one entity having more say or more priviledges than any other person. Therefore it would then follow suit that these piers would then need to be placed at the end of public easements only.

I know that I am pleased to have a pier that I have some control over and I can keep it well maintained and serviced - the neighbours all have piers and although it is not the prettiest of sights, it is nice not having anybody using or abusing the piers. But in other neighbourhoods I am amazed when I see taxis and larger vehicles driving up and down with goods deliveries - damaging the piers and then shrugging their shoulders when asked who will pay for the damage and wear and tear.

It looks like the pier regulation situation is finally coming to a head.

An open forum would be a step in the right direction so that the town council and DOE will have the input to consider.
Posted By: weile

Re: pier fees - 04/20/08 08:30 PM

Moratorium on all pier construction and dredging with the extemption of community piers, built at public easements seems to be the way to go unless we want to see the beachfront completely ruined by palapa roof covered hideous piers every 200 feet, as is unfortunately already the case in many places.
I still believe that those of us who have spent thousands of dollars on our piers should have the right to tell people not to abuse the right of being able to use them for free. I for one say no to any more fish guts, heavy duty deliveries and day-long storing of junk, while I am welcoming people to use the pier for passenger loading and unloading, as they should be entitled to - and are by law.
And... it is just plain wrong to charge community piers a fee. They are (at least at the mid- and noth sections of the island) the only way to receive deliveries; and should be considered as essential to the residents as the million dollar cobble stone roads in town.
Posted By: Amanda Syme

Re: pier fees - 04/22/08 04:27 PM

I fully understand what you are saying Ebbe and I totally concur. Of course a complete moratorium will probably not happen but hopefully with all of this focus on the subject we might manage to improve the situation that we are in and come up with some solutions on how to handle the future.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: pier fees - 04/23/08 01:49 PM

It is common in many areas for facilities built with private money on leased public land (lease $ goes to govt as with piers) to be managed (usually with the possibility of profit for the lessee)by private parties.
Seaports, airports and national parks are examples.
Somebody has to manage these things, oversee repairs, etc and for sure we do not have the manpower (time nor expertise) in public government for everything like this.

easements are plentiful in some areas and missing entirely in others. recommend that we agree on an intention and then find solutions one by one that address the real circumstances of situations --- the island's configuration and dvelopment are not uniform, and the solutions cannot be one-kind-fits-all, because it simply will not work.

Posted By: Amanda Syme

Re: pier fees - 04/23/08 04:05 PM

That is so true Diane. And just because we have experienced poor planning doesn't mean that we need to allow this bad practice to continue.

See you at the SPBA meeting tomorrow for discussion of this subject with the Town Councilors.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: pier fees - 04/25/08 01:19 PM

sorry i could not attend the meeting - i'm off island for a few more days ...........
am currently working on another island in another country dealing with with another change in government and another change in building guidelines --- spent a whole morning in the "alcaldia" office and another debating with people who don't want to honor zoning -------- it's the same old story all over again!
Posted By: weile

Re: pier fees - 04/25/08 05:40 PM

I still think that a public pier at an easement is what any neighborhood needs, and that the property owners in the neigborhoods should be able to agree on this and share the costs.
In our case (Mata Grande) I would be happy to contribute to this, and I hope and think that I am not the only one.
A solid 200' pier, 42" above high tide level can be built for $BZ 60K, everything included, provided that a such public pier will not be subject to an outrageous fee from town board or government. A such public pier is what properties off the beach, vacation rental homes without a pier etc. need for their deliveries and Island Ferry drop-offs etc., and the little maintenance needed could easily be financed by a few residents paying a small fee for a fixed parking spot. It just takes one resident who is willing to be the pier captain and one local caretaker who is interested in making a little extra, checking the pier once or twice a week.
Posted By: pamkillen

Re: pier fees - 04/25/08 06:10 PM

I thought that all piers were open to the public for deliveries and drop offs. But I agree with the concept and would actually extend that to pools.
Posted By: weile

Re: pier fees - 04/25/08 06:31 PM

Pam, All piers are, according to law, open to the public for people (not heavy commercial deliveries) from 6 am to 6 pm. Between 6 pm and 6 am people technically need permission from the pier owner, but I think that very few people will be evil, mean or stupid enough to deny access for people getting on and off a boat, no matter what time it is.
How would you extend that to pools???
Posted By: pamkillen

Re: pier fees - 04/25/08 07:11 PM

I am not sure but maybe community pools with shared fees for membership. It would really save on cost and I am not sure that pools are that environmentally sound with chlorine etc.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: pier fees - 04/27/08 02:18 PM

Pam ---- about your comment on public access for swimming pools --- are you suggesting that a swimming pool in somebody's fenced backyard, on private property paid for and maintained by private funds, possibly with guard dogs should be open to the public? I'm assuming there is more to your suggestion than the way it reads ---- cause it really does not make sense to me at all.

Posted By: pamkillen

Re: pier fees - 04/27/08 03:26 PM

No, I am thinking of a community situation with shared costs etc. maybe a club like situation. But it is a careless thought that warrents little or no attention.
Posted By: elbert

Re: pier fees - 04/27/08 03:31 PM

Originally Posted by pamkillen
But it is a careless thought that warrents little or no attention.

:-) love you pam , thanks for starting my day with a smile.
Posted By: Diane Campbell

Re: pier fees - 04/28/08 12:52 PM

thanks for clarifying that pool thing pam --- i've always viewed the sea as our community pool --- would love to see more community attention on caring for it
Posted By: weile

Re: pier fees - 04/28/08 07:19 PM

Thanks Pam, you had me worried there for a while ;-)
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