After weeks of negotiations on some of the fine print, Port St. Joe city commissioners last week approved plans by the St. Joe Company for development of the Port St. Joe Marina.

Commissioners approved the Planned Unit Development for the marina, a plan that fills in the details on what St. Joe is proposing in what the company is labeling a complete rebuild.

“The Port St. Joe Marina received substantial damage from Hurricane Michael,” wrote Josh Baxley, Senior Project Manager for Dewberry Engineers, Inc. “The St. Joe Company is in the process of removing the damaged facilities and planning for a complete rebuild.”

Most of the parcel has been cleared as of this week.

Commissioners have already approved a small-scale amendment which will accommodate the details of the PUD, which commissioners had held off approving as negotiations continued over boat slips and parking.

The number of boat slips has increased from 99 to 300, including wet and dry slips, according to the plans.

The required parking for boat slips will be one space for every five wet/dry slips.

In addition, the plans call for a marina store and marina club and the addition of a 150-room hotel and accessory services such as restaurants, lounges, retail space, meeting rooms and recreation facilities.

The PUD also provides for single-family or multi-family residential units with density increased from seven units per acre to 15.

In addition, the PUD includes passive recreational areas including hiking, nature and bike trails, stormwater management facilities, docks, piers, viewing platforms, boardwalks, picnic areas and areas for bird watching.

“I am looking forward to them getting going on this,” said Mayor Rex Buzzett.


BCC transition

With the first of October the city’s new solid waste hauler took over operations and the transition has already encountered bumps.

One of the first is the company’s desire to move the containers at 50-60 residences out of alleys onto the roadsides.

Jason Tunnell of BCC noted it was a small number out of the 1,886 customers in the city, but commissioners were reluctant to approve any significant changes.

Many folks, Buzzett noted, have placed their trash containers in the alleyways for decades and he said it helped the city aesthetically.

He said that “Aesthetically, safety wise and health concerns for senior citizens, I want to avoid as much as possible any disruptions.”

And, Buzzett said, it all tied to service.

One of the key reasons the city transitioned from Waste Pro to BCC at the conclusion of a five-year contract was concerns about poor service.

So far, he said, BCC was not allaying his fears.

“The argument … is the price went up and service went down,” Buzzett said. “We’ve got to have good service out of this contract.”

In part, the cost increase reflects BCC assuming yard debris pick-up.

In addition, tipping fees increased from $52.50 to $85 per ton.

Tunnell said the next couple of months would be challenging for his company with the transfer station at Five Points under construction.

As of this week, the Bay County Incinerator also closed for two weeks for maintenance.

That meant the BCC haulers were forced to travel even farther to empty trucks once full of solid waste.

The matter before commissioners last week was approving the new five-year contract with BCC; commissioners awarded the contract base this summer based on price comparisons.

“This whole process is a bit odd,” Hoffman said. “We approved the prices without a contract.”

Commissioners approved the contract with the provision they can renegotiate tipping fees once the transfer station at Five Points is operational.