Expansion plan for marina irks some residents


November 11, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff writer

By the waterfront of Manhattan Beach, residents are fighting over the view.

John Venizelos, whose deck overlooks the Magothy River, laments that his view will be spoiled if the community association allows a nearby marina to expand.

But the marina owners have offered to buy about an acre of land and donate it to the community association if its members don't oppose the expansion. And that seems like a good deal at least to some members.

"We're getting this land for nothing," says Roy Mason, president of the Manhattan Beach Civic Association. "I'm very pleased we have this opportunity to get a piece of property on the water for nothing."

The association is to vote on the issue Dec. 7.

The marina has 186 slips, none of which is directly in front of waterfront houses. But the Magothy Marina Limited Partnership plans to add 18 slips on the western side, stretching up the river another 70 feet or so and affecting Mr. Venizelos' view and the views of 13 other property owners.

But more than 70 residents have signed a petition protesting the proposed expansion.

"We got to draw a line someplace," says Mr. Venizelos, whose family has owned the property for 50 years. "This is our community. It doesn't belong to some outside company that just wants to make money at our expense. We got to fight for our community."

Opponents of the expansion say the move not only would spoil the view but also would increase traffic and parking problems.

"The area is already over capacity," says George White, who is a member of the Magothy Marina Condominium Association and a community resident opposed to the expansion.

"From a harbor standpoint and for roadways and parking, it's already crowded. We will see an incredible social and xTC environmental impact if this happens," he predicts.

Opponents also fear the expansion could endanger a preserved wetland area.

"Some think it is ironical that the MBCA [civic association] asked the county council for special legislation to preserve the environmental integrity of the wetlands in 1985 and now appear to be willing to turn their back on the environment for the right inducement," says Bill Trepp, who lives on the waterfront.

But the land being offered is worth $150,00, and it is the "last, large buildable piece of land in Manhattan Beach," Mr. Mason says. "We could sell it or build a new community center."

Opponents protest, however, that the deal is contingent on the marina owner's ability to sell the boat slips it proposes to add.

In a letter dated July 7, the partnership told Mr. Mason that "the funds [to buy the land] will have to be derived from slip sales so there can be no time limit on this acquisition. . . . There can be no guarantees."

Mr. Venizelos also insists that agreeing to a larger marina isn't the only way to obtain the property. "We could hold community fund-raisers and buy it," he says. "We don't have to get it by being bribed."

The marina, built in the 1960s, didn't exist when Mr. Venizelos' family family moved here, he says. "We've accepted growth, but this marina is squeezing us out."

Mr. Trepp, who bought a summer cottage on the water 14 years ago and rebuilt it, says he also feels cheated.

"For the money we spent I could have gone to Shipley's Choice or another nice community, but we liked what was here -- this cove as it is, this marina the size it is," he says. "Now the game rules are changing."

But the expansion would enhance the property values of community residents, says Victoria Shiroky, the marina manager.

"Inland residents could buy a boat slip and sell it as part of their home, eventually," she says. "And the marina is beautiful. It's not a working boat-yard; it's like a private club."

But residents don't see the expansion as an opportunity.

"Our [community association] board obviously doesn't care about our community," Mr. White says. "They just care about the free land they get out of this."

Expansion opponents have been going door to door, seeking the support of residents not on the waterfront.

Mr. Trepp says that even if the civic association approves the project in December, he isn't giving up.

"We'll fight the permit process," he says.

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