CZM Commission Denies Requested Change for Williams & Punch Resort

The Coastal Zone Management Commission Monday approved two of the three changes to conditions for the proposed Williams & Punch resort development, but balked at a third, which developers said was critical, leaving the proponents considering filing with the Board of Land Use Appeals.

"I’m shocked," said Chris Elliot, board member and part owner of the proposed development, after the commission denied on a 1-2 vote the request to add 40 feet to the seaward side of the beach. "That was the critical part."

The developers were seeking changes to three of the 36 conditions imposed by the CZM when it approved the plan in January. At Monday’s meeting the developers had asked that the width, length and alignment of the entrance channel to the resort’s marina be changed slightly, and the commission OK’d both of those requests by 3-0 votes, with commissioners Charles D. Peters, Masserae Webster and Neil Simon all voting yes.

The developers’ proposed realignment of the entrance channel into the marina came at a cost – the resort will have to give up one of its four-room villas to make room for it, a cost the proponents said was outweighed by the advantages in navigability and safety.

The developers also were asking for permission to build up the beach 40 feet to the seaward side of the low-water line, but the commissioners said no.

According to Mark M. Yoshizaki, architect of the project, the key to developing a successful resort is getting a high star rating in resort guides. A key factor in those ratings is the amount of beach available, he explained.

The original application asked to restore the beach to where it was in 1960. Under Monday’s proposal, the developers asked to restore the beach to where it was in 1996, adding about 40 feet.

According to Elliott there are practical reasons for such a change. A wider swath of beach would cover expanses of beach rock and would provide more protection from storm surge, he said.

Commissioner Simon offered a motion to accept the proposed change, and Peters seconded it. But when the vote came, only Simon voted yea, with Peters joining Webster to vote no, leaving the developers staring open-mouthed as Webster brought the meeting to a close.

"The pieces don’t fit," Elliott said afterwards. "They must not have understood."

Monday Elliott said he saw no alternative but to appeal to the Board of Land Use Appeal.

Not present at the hearing, held in the conference room of the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, were commissioners Tyrone V. Seales and Robert L. Merwin.

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