|By Ryan McCarthy, Florida Keys Keynoter,
(Marathon, Fla.)McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 03, 2012--After dispelling questions about violating height-limit laws, the Marathon City Council unanimously approved an amended development agreement for a proposed 95-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel near mile marker 48 bayside.
The city's height limit is 37 feet, but property owner Roger Masters and partner Prime Hospitality Group submitted designs with several architectural features reaching as high as 47 feet.
City law states the planning director, in this case George Garrett, is able to grant such a request as long as the extra height is not habitable space. For the Marriott, the features are basically four-sided roofs on top of stairwells surrounding the hotel and one larger area at the front of it.
Garrett told the council on Sept. 25 the extra height serves "no purpose other than to have an interesting roof line."
"In our code, which was heavily debated, we have a variance of up to 25 percent for height. We're not breaking our height code," Councilman Mike Cinque said.
Councilman Rich Keating made sure to confirm there would be no rooftop uses at the hotel. "There is no deck or dance floor or anything else they're going to do?" he asked.
"There is absolutely nothing," Garrett said.
Councilwoman Ginger Snead said the council could not underestimate the value of a name-brand hotel in Marathon.
"If we don't get hotels in this town with Internet recognition, we're not going to develop. Everyone goes online and looks for whatever hotel they have a card for to get rewards," she said.
Snead then motioned to include language in the development agreement requiring Masters to pull building permits by Feb. 1. It passed unanimously.
"We'll put in the final document that will come back to you that says if they don't bring it back by then, the agreement expires," City Attorney John Herin said.
The amended development agreement and conditional use increases the number of units from 80 to 95, while substantially reducing the amount of planned commercial space on the property.
Masters' and partner Prime Hospitality's site plan is scaled back greatly from a Hampton Inn city Finance Director Peter Rosasco attempted to get approved in 2009. Rosasco was requesting architectural features 58 feet tall but eventually backed off and sold the property to Masters.
It's a formality at this point, but the development agreement is slated for another quasi-judicial hearing at the Oct. 9 council meeting. The agreement and conditional use would likely be finalized at the Oct. 25 council meeting. Both are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Marathon Government Center.
(c)2012 the Florida Keys Keynoter (Marathon, Fla.)
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