Destin drifts closer to new no-wake zone

Tony Judnich

The Destin City Council on Monday approved the adoption of an ordinance to establish an idle-speed/no-wake boating safety zone immediately next to the city-owned Joe’s Bayou Recreation Area Boat Ramp and Kayak Launch.

City officials say the bayou during the warmer months is often congested with vessels, with many of them being driven too fast, increasing the likelihood of boating accidents.

Destin officials will need the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to issue a Florida Uniform Waterway Marker permit in order to mark the zone’s boundaries with buoys or pilings. The city anticipates receiving that permit early next year.

Councilman Tuffy Dixon said that when the FWC reviews the city’s permit application, he hopes the agency will take into consideration the high number of boats being launched into Joe’s Bayou during the summertime. No other council member and no one from the public commented at the meeting on the planned boating safety zone.

Pending final approval, the zone would extend 500 feet in an arc shape from the boat ramp. Boaters who operate their vessels at a speed in excess of idle speed/no wake in the zone could receive a noncriminal infraction and a $50 fine.

In other business Monday, the council:

• Approved the first reading of an ordinance that would allow medical marijuana treatment center dispensing facilities as a permitted use in the same zoning districts as pharmacies.

• Recognized Destin Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Lisa Firth as the city employee of the year. This was the second time that Firth has won the award.