Collier canal residents can replace docks at own expense

SEBASTIAN – Residents living along the Collier Creek Canal will be allowed to replace their docks at their own expense, the Sebastian City Council decided Wednesday night.

The council unanimously supported the decision with a vote of 4-0, with Councilman Eugene Wolff abstaining because he is one of the affected property owners.

The city had 35 docks removed from the canal due to the seawall construction and dredging being done. Of those, only three had been confirmed as properly permitted.

The council agreed that the docks do need to be permitted so that the city can be sure the docks do not damage the seawall, but those permit requirements irked one council member.

“There’s something about this Collier Creek project that logic gets suspended,” Wolff said.

He explained that he believed the city needs to reexamine the proposed sizes of the docks and their specifications pertaining to the size of the pilings and their depth.

The city’s plans call for pilings to be eight inches in diameter and extended 10 feet below grade. Wolff said his dock has 4.5-inch pilings about 2.5 or 3 feet below grade and added that his dock has weathered two hurricanes without incident.

He called the requirements “onerous,” “completely out of touch with reality” and “borders on the absurd.”

City Manager Al Minner responded to the comments, saying that they had “touched a nerve” because the staff had done its “dead level best to use reason.”

Minner explained that the staff’s proposal for the permit requirements came after meeting with S.E. Cline, the contractor who performed the seawall construction and dredging project.

He said that there is no doubt that the plans were over engineered. He explained that the plans were such to protect S.E. Cline’s warranty for the work to the wall and goes “above and beyond” what might be considered necessary.

Minner also said that the plans had been to standardize the docks along the canal, which, again were “over engineered” and “quite frankly ridiculous.”

Council asked Minner to review the permit requirements again and bring back more dock size options and less stringent specifications.

Minner said he expects to bring the policy back at either the next city council meeting – Feb. 24 – or the first one in March.

Residents can expect to be able to apply for a building permit for their docks by mid-March, Minner said.

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