City and yacht club squabble over development

By MOLLY LINN mollylinn@s
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010




The Sandusky Yacht Club wants answers. Three of them.

Without answers, they can't pull up anchor and start their engines on expansion plans - plans that they say would benefit the city with waves of tax revenue.

The club's leadership wants to know where it stands with the city on extending water rights and submerged land leases, a partial vacation of a city parking lot and a height variance parallel to that of the Marina District condos.

The group has been working with the city for several months. After two appearances at the planning commission, they're wondering why the city won't green light the first step in the expansion -- vacating half of the parking lot adjacent to Perry Street.

The lot would give the club more parking and give the club room to grow.

The group's plans came as news to the city planning commission April 25. The commission tabled the request for a second time after a terse exchange between the club's representation and the planning commission. The commission said that more information was needed.

"It was a bit of a surprise, I don't know how much more detail we could give," said Mark Gacka, treasurer of the club.

None of the plans are definite at this time except for a pool and fitness area. On the drawing board are plans for banquet facility expansion, housing units and dock expansion.

But the club doesn't feel it can make definite plans until it know if the city will give a vote of confidence to the project.

Gacka said they will file a petition for the height variation request soon.

The club might build multi-level houses on the property in the future, a move it says will generate revenue for the city on a long-term basis with real estate taxes. Expanding the dock would also bring in revenue if the city accepted the club's proposals to pay 10 percent of dockage fees to the city.

Gacka and John Sheppard, commodore of the club, said they hope to take plans, including a cost analysis, to the club's membership in September.

Late last year, the city contacted the club's board of trustees, asking if the club would be interested in a small piece of property beside it. The club found an appraiser to determine fair market value on the piece of land, paid several thousand dollars to expedite its review and then the city fell silent on the proposal, Gacka said. Since then, the club hasn't made much progress with the city.

The matter will come before the planning commission again later this month.