Plans move forward for redeveloping Sebastian’s working waterfront

SEBASTIAN – Redevelopment of Sebastian’s “working waterfront” sites, including the former Hurricane Harbor property and the site adjacent to it known as the Dabrowski property, is moving forward.

The Sebastian Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the site plan for the Dabrowski property as work is already underway to fix up the Hurricane Harbor building.

The Dabrowski property, also referred to as Sebastian Offsite Marina, is currently functioning as a commercial fishing operation. The site is expected to be rehabilitated and redeveloped with a fish hatchery, an ice house and a two-story fish house.

Also included in the plans are a smokehouse and a “touch pool.” The pool would allow visitors to see up close native fish and other water creatures often found in the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Sebastian working waterfront is owned by the City of Sebastian but leased to Fisherman’s Landing Sebastian, under the leadership of Charles Sembler.

“I’m very excited to see this coming to fruition,” Commission member Joel Roth said, adding that the city will finally be able to get rid of the “eyesore with something we can be proud of.”

The project’s site plan will have to come back to the Planning and Zoning board one more time to address Fisherman’s Landing’s request for a waiver to some of the landscaping requirements.

The organization’s request came too late for it to be advertised and addressed at Thursday’s meeting. The issue is expected to be addressed at the March 17 meeting.

The Hurricane Harbor portion of the project was not included in the site plan reviews because that site is not expected to be heavily modified. However, commission members asked how the property would be rehabilitated.

Hurricane Harbor, which once was a full-scale restaurant and bar, will have a fish market for fish and seafood sales operated by Indian River Seafood, a snack bar also operated by the seafood company, a multi-purpose room for public meeting space, and a museum.

Commissioners voiced concerns about having the same company operate both the fish market and the snack bar, explaining that it would only be a matter of time before a full-blown restaurant was once again operating in Hurricane Harbor.

Rich Stringer, the attorney representing Fisherman’s Landing Sebastian, said that the plan is to have a separate vendor handle the snack bar, but probably not right away. He added that there are several government agencies “with more teeth” than the city that will be watching what happens on the site.

The city is already working on fixing up the site with plans for a new roof, fresh paint and patching up rotted segments of walls.

The Sebastian City Council is expected to discuss approving a covered entrance for the property, which requires a waiver to the property’s set back requirements. An ancillary building is also expected to be built to house the necessary machinery and equipment to keep the site working.

Wood decks and boardwalks are in the plans for both properties as a way to tie the sites together, according to Growth Management Director Rebecca Grohall.

The Planning and Zoning board unanimously approved the proposed site plan, contingent on the landscape waiver to be discussed next month.

“We have a working waterfront going forward,” Commission Chair Larry Paul said.

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