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Bocilla Island Seaport project forges ahead

By PAULETTE LeBLANC - | Mar 10, 2021

pleblanc@breezenewspapers.com

Hans Wilson and Associates is in the process of designing and permitting the much talked about Bocilla Island Seaport project in Bokeelia. The marina renovation has been a topic for many islanders concerned with increased traffic, both on the water and on land, but Wilson says the boat slips reflect current industry standards for anticipated vessels and controlling depth to the site.

“We are in the process of doing the design and permitting in accordance with all the local, state and federal regulations,” said Wilson. “The docks that are there are very old and do not reflect current design standards for today’s vessels. Keeping the number of boat slips that are allowed with the property, per the county’s manatee protection plan, we’ve redesigned to reflect what the slip sizes are that we anticipate for this community given the controlling water depths at Jug Creek.”

Wilson said there was a traffic study done at the time the site’s development order was prepared. Because the number of currently entitled boat slips for the site is not increasing, he says, vehicle traffic is not being increased.

“We provided responses to all the rejection letters, that the Army Corps of Engineers received,” said Wilson, “and addressed those on an issue-specific basis.”

As for permitting, Wilson said the original docks on the property were likely grandfathered, with many of the docks having been constructed prior to the need for the establishment of the regulatory program.

“I think as far back as 1944 we show docks on that site,” said Wilson. “I’m just trying to create and brand a facility that is in deeper water and take the boats that are currently moored along the shoreline and the seawall, which is extremely shallow, and get them out of there. If the owner wanted to, they could rebuild those finger piers and continue to moor boats there, but as those boats change in terms of the designs, it’s just going to increase the potential for prop dredging in those shallow slips. So it makes sense to move them out of those shallow slips, take all that infrastructure out, let that shallow water that can sustain seagrasses recover, and hopefully have the seagrasses reestablished.”

From the application to the Department of Environmental Protection–

DESCRIPTION OF THE PROPOSED ACTIVITY

The applicant, Robert Gunther, applied on May 7, 2019, to the Department of Environmental Protection for a permit, water quality certification to replace 480 linear feet of seawall, remove 19 existing finger piers providing mooring for 35 slips along the existing seawall, remove 875 square feet of dock with 15 slips and remove a 460 square feet boat ramp staging dock with 6 slips. The docks will be replaced with a (1,320 sf.) fixed access dock with railing leading to a (150 sf.) aluminum ramp connecting to a (640 sf.) floating dock; a fixed wooden dock (700 sf.) with ten (10) (900 sf.) finger piers; a floating dock (1,080 sf.) with six (720 sf.) floating finger piers and six floating finger piers (840 sf.), a (500 sf.) fixed dock adjacent to the existing boat ramp for staging of boat ramp vessels and mooring, a (300 sf.) fixed dock and to install channel markers to nearest marked channel. The work also includes a fishing pier finger renovation of a fixed dock (175 sf.). The total proposed over-water area is 7,305 square feet. No changes are proposed to the existing upland land use. The activities are located in Charlotte Harbor (Back Bay), Class II Outstanding Florida Waters, Prohibited for shellfish harvesting, and Charlotte Harbor, Class II Outstanding Florida Waters, Conditionally approved for shellfish harvesting and part of Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve. Those activities include 49,062 square feet of preemption of state-owned sovereignty submerged lands The activities authorized by this permit are located at 8421 & 8491 Main Street, Bokeelia, FL 33922, Parcel ID 25-43-21-00-00007.0000 & 25-43-21-00-00007.0000, in Section 25, Township 43S, Range 21E, in Lee County.

The application file is available online and can be accessed through the Department’s Information Portal at: https://prodenv.dep.state.fl.us/DepNexus/public/electronicdocuments/ERP_152558/facility!search. If you have any questions or are experiencing difficulty viewing the electronic application, please call South District DEP Office at 239-344-5600, or by email at SouthDistrict@floridadep.gov