Boat access victory won in Palm Beach

PALM BEACH, Fla. – Palm Beach County voters approved a referendum question yesterday that allows the government to borrow $50 million to buy development rights to privately owned marinas, build new boat ramps and create more public parking, according to several newspaper reports.

The intention of the proposal is to preserve and grow public access to the waterfront by preventing real estate developers from buying up marinas and replacing them with condos, reported the Palm Beach Post.

Currently, while there are 40,000 registered boats in the county, 26,500 of which are on trailers, there are only nine public marinas and 550 parking spaces at public launches, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Final approval yet to be given

If the county commission gives it final approval, the $50 million bond will be paid for through property tax increases. However, estimates suggest that the owner of a $200,000 property with the homestead exemption would pay less than $6 more per year.

Before soliciting this final approval, administrators will have to create a more concrete plan for using the money.

Initial speculation is that, in addition to purchasing private marinas’ development rights, building boat ramps and creating parking, the money might be used to buy waterfront land or to buy development rights from condo developers, helping to reduce the size of their projects and thus preserve current marinas, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

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