The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted unanimously at the regular meeting on Tuesday July 28, 2020 to approve the Special Exception application submitted by S & T Boat Repair and Bait. The business is located on the west side of Shoal Line Boulevard, approximately 670 feet north of Bluefish Drive in Hernando Beach.
The exception allows for wholesale distribution of shrimp in addition to the current CM-1 / CM-2 (Commercial Marine 1 and 2) limits and was recommended to be approved by the Planning and Zoning Board on March 9, 2020 in a 3-2 vote.
On March 24, 2020.BOCC voted unanimously to review the Special Exception Use Permit. The business owners applied to have the case heard and reviewed on the merits presented during the July 28th meeting.
According to Planning Director Ron Pianta, there was a question about the actual business activities leading to some confusion as to whether or not the business was conducting a commercial fishing operation in the wrong location.
The business owners have been operating at this location since 2014. They explain in their application that they thought they were within the zoning rules of Hernando Beach because the business which operated out of this location before them was a tropical fish wholesale company.
Commissioner Wayne Dukes was under the impression that the business required additional permits and asked Zoning Administrator Chris Linsbeck to explain the reasons. Linsbeck reported that the business had additional work done on the building, which required an electrical, plumbing and deck permit. The deck permit will require additional planning and design before it is approved.
Linsbeck also stated that S & T’s Certificate of Occupancy (CO) would be approved upon the BOCC’s approval for the Special Exception on this day.
Though the business is located on a canal, the waterway will not be used in its operations.
The owners of S & T, Saul and Theresa Salas presented a walk-through video of their intended business operation to the commissioners and public in attendance, featuring an elaborate network of skimmers, filtration and ultraviolet (UV) lighting in addition to the tanks in which the shrimp will live.
Saul and Theresa Salas reported that no waste will be disposed of in the canal, and that their type of business is regulated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) which performs regular inspections.
Valerie Shelter, previous President of the Hernando Beach Property Owners Association (HBPOA) and Port Authority member questioned during Citizen’s Comments whether today’s decision would result in appeals by other business owners on Hernando Beach who were previously denied Special Exceptions.
Several other Hernando Beach residents urged the commission to deny the petition.
First to address Citizens Comments, Commissioner Steve Champion said, “I can’t for the life of me understand why you wouldn’t want this here.” Champion went on to say that like other businesses found in violation of FWC or local ordinance, that S & T would face the same consequences.
Addressing the immediate concern of introducing pollution into the canal, Saul Salas, testifying under oath, showed a diagram of the closed system his business employs, with wastewater returned to the county sewage system.