Okaloosa County Commission to consider revised ordinance that regulates Crab Island businesses.

SHALIMAR — Proposed changes to Okaloosa County’s ordinance that regulates floating structures and commercial vessels at Crab Island are up for further discussion at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting.


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The board plans to consider the potential ordinance amendments at a public hearing set for 9 a.m. in the County Administration Building.


Crab Island is a submerged warm-weather party spot in Choctawhatchee Bay just west of Destin and north of the Marler Bridge. Some of the possible ordinance revisions could lead to a less-commercialized island that many local officials prefer.


The possible revisions are recommended by the county Floating Structures Advisory Committee and were discussed at a commission workshop, according to Craig Coffey, deputy county administrator of operations. Destin officials support the proposed changes.


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The potential revisions include modifications to the county fee system for island businesses, as well as a requirement for commercial vessels and floating structures that ferry passengers to pick them up from a properly permitted/licensed private commercial facility.


Too, county officials might require the propeller on each commercial vessel and floating structure to be equipped with cages to prevent sea grass damage. And they could limit the vessels and structures that operate at the island to only 15 licensed entities per year.


In the recommended revised fee system, commercial vessels would pay $200, floating structures of less than 1,500 square feet would pay $1,000 and those that are 1,500 square feet or more would pay $1,500 for each month or any portion of a month that they operate at Crab Island.


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In addition, each business would pay the county 1% of its total monthly revenue.


Besides occupying a part of the unincorporated area, Crab Island is within the boundaries of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.


Seashore officials are conducting a comprehensive review that will determine which commercial activities on Crab Island are necessary and appropriate, according to Coffey. The review is expected to be completed in time for the 2021 season.


The county’s proposed cap of 15 annual island business licenses could take effect Jan. 1, 2021.



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