KEY WEST POSTPONES CRUISE SHIP MEETING
The Azamara Quest cruise ship docks in Key West in November, the first ship to return since March 2020. The ship meets the voter-approved size limit for ships. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly
It’s been a whole two weeks or so since we typed the words “cruise ship,” so here’s the latest on Key West’s ongoing work to limit the size and number of ships at all three docks, including Pier B, which is a private business.
City officials had scheduled a special meeting for Feb. 3 to discuss only the cruise ship issue.
That meeting has been postponed to give the city commissioners and the public time before the meeting to thoroughly to review the draft ordinances that would impose the ship limits.
“Because this is such an important issue, and the public should have an advance draft of the ordinance to review before the meeting, should we consider postponing that meeting? I just want to be sure there’s enough time for the agenda to be published and reviewed by the public,” Commissioner Sam Kaufman said at the Jan. 19 commission meeting.
Mayor Teri Johnston agreed and city officials have since indicated that the cruise ship meeting originally scheduled for Feb. 3 will be postponed. Officials will announce the new date at their regularly scheduled city commission meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 1, a city press release stated Thursday morning, Jan. 27.
“City staff is working diligently with the goal of having the ordinance available to the commission and the community as soon as possible to have ample time to review it,” the release states.
City Attorney Shawn Smith has been working with attorney Edward Pozzuoli of the Tripp Scott law firm to turn the voter-approved ship restrictions into city ordinances, as the state legislature voided the voter initiatives during last year’s session.
Pozzuoli also had advised the city in December to renegotiate its existing contract with Pier B before making any attempt to restrict private business.
“I could not advise you to put into ordinance a mirror image of the voter referendums without you understanding the potential liability. There’s a long-standing contract with Pier B, and it’s not just a contract, but a formal development agreement. It runs through 2025 and is subject to an automatic renewal of 10 years. … You’re governed now by that development agreement with Pier B. You may consider directing us to engage in formal discussions to amend that agreement,” Pozzuoli told the commission on Dec. 13, after outlining some of the challenges the city would face in attempting to restrict Pier B’s cruise ship business, which the city authorized and encourages in the development agreement that also requires Pier B to give the city 25% of its annual cruise ship revenue. “At the very least, I’d direct your legal counsel to formally modify that Pier B agreement,”
Smith further updated the city commission at its most recent Jan. 19 meeting:
“We continue to go down the two paths you’ve directed, which is to negotiate with Pier B to amend the development agreement as well as bring forward an ordinance,” Smith said on Jan. 19, adding that the commission will consider a first reading of the new ordinance at the special cruise ship meeting. “And hopefully, we’ll have an agreement from Pier B to bring to you. We continue to negotiate with them. We continue to talk with Judge Sandra Taylor about a mediation and about bringing in Safer Cleaner Ships as well.”