Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Casino Ship No Sure Bet

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Casino Ship No Sure Bet

Article excerpt

ATLANTIC BEACH -- The City Commission put off action Monday

night on a company's request to dock a casino ship at Johnston

Island because the annexed area has not been included on city

zoning maps.

A public hearing on the issue was conducted as scheduled, and

while the commission did not deliberate, it heard from speakers

and asked questions of the city attorney, city staff and

applicant C.B. Universal Inc.

C.B. Universal owners Charles Roth and John Wadman want to base

their 600-passenger, 255-foot-long cruise ship on an island that

sits on the east side Intracoastal Waterway. The island was

annexed from Jacksonville in 1996. To dock the ship, C.B.

Universal needs a Development of Regional Impact, or DRI,

approved.

If the DRI is approved, the Atlantic Beach City Commission

would be giving C.B. Universal permission to proceed with its

development.

City Attorney Alan Jensen told audience members the information

presented should be factual, not moral or emotional. But

Atlantic Beach resident Nancy White, the last of 24 speakers,

said that as a resident opposed to the gambling ship, she

couldn't help but get emotional.

"I feel as though I have to retain an attorney to protect my

rights," she said. "Please fight this element."

John Weldon, a Neptune Beach resident, warned the commission

that gambling operations are not regulated and do not contribute

much to the tax base -- as C.B. Universal had proposed.

Many West Beaches residents complained about potential traffic

problems caused by drivers merging with westbound Atlantic

Boulevard traffic from a stopped position. But the Northeast

Florida Regional Planning Council advised in its recommendation

approving the DRI that C.B. Universal construct an

acceleration/deceleration lane.

West Beaches resident Valerie Britt submitted a stack of

paperwork about 5 inches high addressing several issues,

including that the traffic study did not consider the impact of

casino ship traffic on the San Pablo Road-Atlantic Boulevard

intersection.

The applicant estimated an average of 117 cars for its 9:30

a. …

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