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Matanzas Inn and Matanzas on the Bay re-affirmed for expansion plans

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Jan 14, 2021

Matanzas on the Bay has plans to expand/ File photo

Matanzas Inn co-owner Doug Speirn-Smith began plans for expanding the lodging establishment and the Matanzas on the Bay restaurant 20 years ago.

While a portion of the restaurant expansion is completed, plans for 14 more rooms at the motel are still in the works and town staff has sought specificity on the plans.

On Monday, the council re-affirmed those plans and that he is in compliance with his zoning plan and commercial planned development, with the requirement that the owners provide an annual update.

Speirn-Smith gained approval for his long-term plans five years ago for a 10-year period. He now has five more years to finish his work (a master concept plan) and could re-apply to extend the life of the plan if he doesn’t finish his work in that timespan.

The council voted 3-2 to affirm Speirn-Smith’s development of the property. Voting in favor were Mayor Ray Murphy, Councilmember Dan Allers and Councilmember Jim Atterholt. Voting against it were Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros and Councilmember Bill Veach.

Matanzas on the Bay has plans to expand/ File photo by Nathan Mayberg

Hosafros and Veach were looking for more specificity on the plans and the phases. Hosafros said a majority of the work in the plan has not yet been finished.

“I feel like there needs to be a little more structure,” Veach said.

Councilmember Jim Atterholt said he sided with Speirn-Smith to give “flexibility to the business owner.”

Atterholt said “I do think that doing business on this island is a little bit of a challenge given the fact that red tide shut the island down (in 2018).”

Atterholt said it’s difficult to plan for such castrophic events as the red tide episode and the current pandemic.

“As a small business we’re always trying to figure out how big of a bite should we do,” Speirn-Smith said. “One thing I’ve learned is don’t predict.”

Speirn-Smith has so far demolished four units at the Matanzas Inn as part of the zoning resolution order based on the 2015 plan with the town and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the project.

He intends to replace the office building and reconfigure the site with a new resort building.

He has additional plans for expanding the restaurant, he said. Speirn-Smith said he was “encouraged” by the council’s vote.

“We want to proceed (with the development) on an orderly basis,” he said.