Moss Marina Request Put on Hold For Now


A proposed ordinance for a Future Land Use Map Amendment was pulled from the Town Council agenda Monday at the request of the Freeland Group. Freeland needs the Map Amendment Change in order to move forward with The Arches redevelopment project on the Moss Marina property.

Freeland requested the item be pulled from the Monday agenda until their Commercial Planned Development is ready and both requests can be dealt with by the town at the same time. That most likely means both items would go back to the LPA first before coming before the Town Council. All CPD’s go through the LPA for their recommendation before going to the Town Council.

Freeland may have decided to pull the Map Amendment change request after hearing Vice Mayor Jim Atterholt come out as a hard no on their request. With the Mayor also leaning toward a no Freeland would have needed the other 3 Town Council members to vote yes. And, that was unlikely.

Attorney Jenna Persons-Mulicka, who represents Freeland, said that even though both were applied for at the same time (August of 2023), it’s not uncommon for the map amendment request to move faster than the more detailed CPD. “We can’t do any redevelopment unless we get both approved, however, folks want to talk about the project. They want to talk about the details. And, we want to continue to hear what they have to say. So we’re asking to slow down the small scale map amendment so the CPD can catch up.”

While the Map Amendment Change had nothing to do with approving or denying the final project it had morphed into a public discussion about the scope of the project in the public domain.

Ben Freeland told the Town Council Monday that he wants to work with the town to find out what is mutually beneficial. “From the beginning I have said it’s got to be good for the neighbors, good for the community and good for us. I look forward to working with you and hopefully we can find a resolution that fits all of those goals.”

The Future Land Use Map Amendment request from Freeland is to change eight parcels of land now identified as Marina and Mixed Residential to Pedestrian Commercial, and join two existing parcels of land Freeland owns that are already classified Pedestrian Commercial. It is not to approve or deny the actual Arches project.

Last month, by a vote of 4-2, the Local Planning Agency denied Freeland’s request. Despite LPA denial the process allows any applicant to roll the dice on a Town Council vote. The LPA only recommends to the Town Council. There have been times in the past that the LPA has recommended denial and the council has approved. Nothing though on a project this big post hurricane-Ian. Both the Town Council and LPA have repeatedly said, during joint meetings, that they want to stick to the town’s Comprehensive Plan as is.

Freeland says the Future Land Use Development Map Amendment is the first step they need approved in their quest to build 3 hotels totaling 400 rooms, a 1,000-foot long community bay walk, a marina, bars, restaurants and shopping. Town Staff also recommended denial stating the proposed change “is not clearly in the public interest.”
Even if the Map Amendment Change passed Monday, the project could have been rejected or modified through the CPD process, much like what happened when the Town Council and TPI worked through the details for what would eventually become Margaritaville.

Icing the Map Amendment change request not only allows the project to live on to fight another day it will also allow the LPA, Town Council and the public to see everything on the table at the same time; the Map Amendment change and the exact scale of the project Freeland hopes to build on the 3.53 acres of property, which will be detailed in the CPD.

It’s important to note that, as with any development, if everything goes 100 percent according to plan, we are still many years away from anything new opening.



  1. Why would any council member state their vote publicly prior to the actual vote? This allows all other council members to know how their peers will vote PRIOR to the actual vote. Isn’t this breaking the sunshine law????

    • You obviously didn’t read the article.

      No, they couldn’t have; the CPD application isn’t yet ready to go before the LPA.


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