Destin mulls banning Crab Island businesses

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By Maddie Rowley | 315-4353 | @maddiedestinlog |

DESTIN — The City Council is considering a multi-year moratorium on commercial activity at Crab Island as a way to address the lack of regulation at the popular tourist spot.

Councilman Rodney Braden on Monday brought up the idea of a possible three- to five-year or two- to four-year moratorium on all commercial activity on Crab Island, citing the non-family friendly environment.

Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis agreed that issues regarding Crab Island — a submerged sandbar near Marler Bridge that is a popular spot for boaters and floating businesses — need to be addressed. He added that vendors should have a chance to speak for themselves at an upcoming City Council meeting.

Councilman Cyron Marler was concerned about a negative ripple effect if all commercial activity ended at Crab Island.

“People come to Destin for three reasons: fishing, Crab Island and the beaches,” Marler said.

Councilmen Chatham Morgan and Tuffy Dixon agreed with the idea of ending commercial activity on Crab Island.

“It wouldn’t stop people from going to Crab Island. People just won’t be able to buy a margarita or beer there,” Dixon said.

Prebble Ramswell pointed out that Destin already bans commercial activity in all city parks, and Crab Island technically is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

According to City Manager Carisse LeJeune, legislation was crafted by the state to give Okaloosa County the ability to regulate Crab Island.

LeJeune asked city land use attorney Kimberly Kopp to draft a resolution on Crab Island’s commercial activity to present to the council at its next meeting.

It didn’t take long for the idea to attract pushback. After the meeting, some Crab Island vendors gathered outside the Destin City Hall Annex.

“Everybody out on Crab Island is licensed and regulated by the state,” said Kevin Brown, owner of Reef Burger. “We’re not happy about it. The city of Destin doesn’t have jurisdiction over Crab Island.”

In other business, the City Council voted unanimously to extend Destin’s contract with Gulf Power until Sept. 21 as discussions with the utility continue.



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