The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted 4-1 to approve a rezoning petition that will permit Neptune’s Grotto to rent motor boats to their guests. The property is located on the Mud River, on the south side of Cortez Boulevard, approximately 880 feet southeast of Mary’s Fish Camp Road. It is connected to a C-2 zoned lot containing the five-room motel.
Commissioner Jerry Campbell opposed the petition, citing potential loopholes in the zoning conditions, including rental by the general public not staying at the hotel and the history of a high-traffic rental business that previously rented the property from the owner.
The site is now zoned Planned Development Project (Commercial Marine) (PDP(CM)) with a specific user (CM-1) for Boat Rentals. The petition was approved with modified performance conditions from the original request.
The number of boat slips is limited to seven. Five slips will be for vessels rented by motel guests (one boat per room), and two additional slips will be used by the owner for his personal vessels.
The rental boats are limited to 14 feet long and must be parked parallel to the sea wall, with no double parking permitted. A prominent identifier will also be displayed on all rental craft.
Several residents opposed the petition, though a few supported it. One of the main reasons for the opposition is that there have been several complaints to Code Enforcement and bad behavior has been observed by some patrons.
Attorney Darryl Johnston represented the petitioner, Jason Soldini, of 520 SW 15 Street, LLC. He reported that Code Enforcement had been receiving complaints about the operation of a boat rental business, “We made the argument that we thought it was still compliant … there’s CM-1 (zoning) along the area.”
Solidini recently purchased the property located at 6004 Cortez Boulevard and has begun renovations. He has named the motel Neptune’s Grotto.
Soldini recently allowed a tenant who offered boat rentals to use his docks after learning that a zoning for C-1 use mentions “boats and motorboats” and C-2 allows for “Boat sales and service with and without display.” However, Solidini was advised by county staff that he should seek the rezoning.
After the Code Enforcement complaints, Johnston filed the petition to rezone 0.16 acres of the sliver of property, leaving the southernmost 200 feet for “passive recreation.”
Permit listings Soldini presented to the board showed that several types of boats have been moored on and rented from the property in the past when it was called Lowry’s Landing from 1980-1990 and River Point Landing during the 90s.