Many marina residents offer 'botel' plan a wave of support

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Many marina residents offer 'botel' plan a wave of support

By ERIN MOODY
emoody@beaufortgazette.com
Published Saturday, February 2, 2013   |  723 Words  |  

When Tim and Patricia Longyear wake up, they walk upstairs and are greeted by one of the best water views in Beaufort. They rock back and forth to the waves and are content.

They live on a boat in Beaufort's Downtown Marina.

"Look at this view," Patricia Longyear said. "Just look. It's amazing."

The view the Longyears enjoy each morning -- a view enjoyed by about a dozen others who live at the marina -- could soon change.

For starters, the city wants to add a mooring field in the waters near the marina. It also approved a proposal in October to add day-dock space and a water-sports center.

Most recently, City Council has been considering whether to allow floating hotels in the marina.

And when it comes to these "botels," many of those already bunking at the marina are supportive.

"There's a need here for something a little different," said marina resident Birger Rasmussen. "I think downtown is suffering, and we need something to attract people."

Ted Andrae of Andrae Boat Co. owns The Charlestonian, a 93-foot yacht he wants to use as a boat hotel.

Before botels can open for business, Beaufort City Council has to change an ordinance to allow overnight guests in conservation preservation districts, which are designed to protect wildlife refuges, natural areas, outdoor recreational space and areas that flood periodically. The marina is in such a district.

The ordinance change requires two readings. Council has discussed it several times but has not voted.

Those discussions have included a growing list of restrictions. Among them:

  • no more than three botels in operation at once
  • no botel with more than five rooms
  • each room must have a bathroom
  • city-approved site plans to govern waste disposal
  • an on-site manager when more than one room is occupied.
  • Those rules would be in addition to required insurance and vessel certifications.

    The botels also would be restricted to the marina -- and not allowed in the mooring field -- to give emergency responders direct, walk-on access if necessary.

    Rasmussen and his wife, Nancy, have lived in the marina for about five years, although they will move out soon because they purchased a house on Lady's Island. He fully supports the botel idea.

    He isn't worried about increased traffic from botels because he doesn't think there will be more than one. Nonetheless, he said it would be fun to have more people down at the marina.

    "If there's a party, we're usually all involved with it," he said. "It's really fun in summer when travelers come through."

    Danny Angelo moved to the marina from Philadelphia about five years ago and said he loves the location.

    "Where else can you step off the boat and into a park?" he said. "... It's great waking up in the morning, throwing open the hatch, and there's the sun, and you're on the water."

    He'd like the botel to "make a go of it" and said it would give visitors an unusual experience, especially children.

    The Longyears agree.

    "With this, you can give people the experience without the expense of buying a boat," Patricia Longyear said.

    They enjoy having newcomers and visitors in the marina, which Tim Longyear said should be accessible to everyone.

    "Public is meant to be inclusive, not exclusive," he said. "... There's going to be progress, whether people want it or not, so it's just about keeping an eye on the progress so it's in keeping with the community."

    Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

    Related content:

    Beaufort marina boat hotel proposal faces additional restrictions, Jan. 8, 2013


    Floating boat hotel -- "botel" -- gets nod from Beaufort commission, Dec. 17, 2012

    Beaufort considers 'floating hotel' at downtown marina, Dec. 11, 2012