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Date of Issue: December 08, 2005

Westbay Cove residents object to Kingfish expansion

Kingfish trees
Clear to the west

Under a Manatee County proposal, these Brazilian pepper trees on the right adjacent to Westbay Cove would be removed to make room for additional parking. While the trees are considered "invasive," Westbay Cove residents claim they provide a buffer between the boat ramp and the complex. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

When Manatee County Natural Resources Director appeared before the Holmes Beach City Commission in August asking for the city's approval for the county to remove Brazilian pepper trees and add parking spaces at Kingfish Boat Ramp, Commissioner Roger Lutz suggested the commission postpone any decision until Westbay Cove residents had returned for the winter season and could provide input.

While the commission has not yet set a date when the issue will return to its agenda, Westbay Cove Association President Molly McCartney made it clear a number of residents will likely protest the county's suggestion to the commission.

"We are a residential neighborhood and we should not have huge pickup trucks and boat trailers parked just a few yards away from our front door," she explained.

"I'm going to urge all condo owners to take a few minutes and write a thoughtful letter to each commission member," McCartney added.

She observed that the condominiums have been around for 30 years and "Now, someone wants to park trucks and boats in our backyard. There is no reason to push boat ramps up against condos which do not allow trucks and trailers to park on their own streets."

Lutz said the Westbay Cove residents need to express their views to the commission. While Lutz opposes the plan, without public comment, a majority of commissioners could easily give approval to the county to proceed with the project.

Even a no vote among by the commission, however, may not be enough to halt the county from removing the trees and creating additional parking. Kingfish Boat Ramp is on county property, although inside the city limits.

Lutz, a lawyer, said he did not know if Manatee County could proceed with its plan without city approval. "It's a lot less likely if the city opposes it. That's the best way to stop it. I don't know why they (Manatee County) are asking us for approval, but they probably won't do it if the commission objects," he said.

New Commissioner David Zaccagnino also wants to hear from the Westbay Cove residents before making a decision.

While agreeing that the county needs more boat ramps, he suggested the county look elsewhere for a location, such as along the approaches to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge or in eastern Manatee County, rather than the already overcrowded Kingfish ramp.

Newly elected Commission Chairperson Rich Bohnenberger has not yet set a date for the issue to return to the commission's agenda, but the item should return for discussion by February 2006, if not sooner.

McCartney pledged that a delegation from Westbay Cove would be at the meeting when the commission next discusses Kingfish Boat Ramp.