Conceptual approval was recommended by the Marina del Rey Design Control Board for two proposed adjacent Marina developments, with several conditions.

One such condition was the restoration of a vernal wetland without damage or conversion to a tidal wetland on one of the parcels, Woodfin Suite Hotel and Vacation Ownership.

This condition includes a requirement for developers of both proposed adjacent parcels — the other development being the Neptune Marina Apartments and Anchorage (Legacy is the lessee) — to return to the Marina del Rey Design Control Board if the “footprint or design or structural engineering and soil study or boundary (buffer zone) change during the development process.”

Marina del Rey Design Control Board chair Susan Cloke also said that if wind studies in the Marina harbor are affected by the building designs, the two developers would have to return to the Design Control Board.

The developers of the two proposed developments will share the cost of developing the wetland park area, estimated to be $600,000, according to county documents.

Woodfin Suite Hotel and Vacation Ownership is bounded by Via Marina at Tahiti Way. The Neptune Marina Apartments and Anchorage (Legacy) development is at Via Marina and Marquesas Way.

The Marina del Rey Design Control Board recommended the conceptual approval and conditions during its special night meeting Thursday, June 29th, at the Burton Chace Park Community Building.

WETLAND INFORMATION — Vernal wetlands are seasonal depressional wetlands covered with shallow water for variable periods from winter to spring, but may be dry for most of the summer and fall.

Tidal wetlands are areas where the sea meets the land. They are flooded periodically by seawater during high or spring tides and affected by the cyclic changes in water levels caused by the tidal cycle, according to federal government information.

A second major issue regarding the wetlands is the presence of the seaside heliotrope, a wetland vegetation species classified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as an obligate, almost always (99 percent of the time) occurring in wetlands.

A biological consultant from an environmental consulting firm working with the county and the developers claims that the seaside heliotrope, present at the wetland site, has been “misclassified,” and should be considered an “upland vegetation species.” He said a biologist from the California Coastal Commission agreed with his analysis.

Local botanist and wildlife ecologist Robert Roy van de Hoek (formerly with the Bureau of Land Management) said during public comment that the seaside heliotrope is considered wetland vegetation and that wet- lands on a higher elevation are not automatically considered “upland vegetation.”

If a piece of land is to be considered a wetland, federal agencies require three indicator parameters to determine that it:

has hydrophytic (water-loving) vegetation;

has surface ponding or soil saturation to within 12 inches below ground surface that persists for a consecutive number of days greater than or equal to five percent of the local growing season (in California the growing season is year-round), which means that 18 consecutive days are required; and

has hydric (requiring considerable moisture) soils indicative of saturated conditions.

The California Coastal Comission requires only one of those indicator parameters to determine a wetland.

Also at issue is the fact that a Section 404 permit under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Water Act is required to facilitate ren bors coastal commission consultant, advised the Design Control Board that the Section 404 permit is not required and that, instead, a “nationwide” permit — described as a “short-form” — would be utilized.

According to the EPA Web site, this nationwide permit would cut the approval period from 104 days down to 14 days.

These nationwide permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are described by federal officials as “key in minimizing the regulatory burden on the landowner,” which in this case is the County of Los Angeles.

According to the Federal Register, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers modified six existing nationwide permits and issued five new ones in the late 1990s.

The maximum acreage limits of most of the new and modified nationwide permits is one-half acre, and “most of the new and modified nationwide permits require notification to the district engineer for activities that result in the loss of greater than one-tenth of an acre of waters in the U.S., according to the Federal Register dated March 9th, 2000.

Design Control Board member Peter Phinney said that “it is critical that hotel construction be coordinated with the wetland development” to avoid any damage to the wetland area.

In other conditions related to the conceptual approval recommendation for the two projects, Cloke said that she and the board members were troubled by the height of the Woodfin Suite Hotel and Vacation Ownership at 225 feet, but said that it is not in the Design Control Board’s purview to rule on the height, and that the public needs to deal with “other entities” concrning the height.

Other conditions imposed on the two proposed adjacent developments included a requirement that the developers return with architectural designs, color palettes, landscape and other general conditions imposed on the proj ects.

WOODFIN SUITE HOTEL — The Woodfin Suite Hotel and Vacation Ownership, which has been redesigned and relocated due to the presence of the wetland area, would consist of:

a 19-story hotel containing 152 hotel rooms or suites (52.8 percent) and 136 vacation ownership suites (47.2 percent) centered within the parcel;

construction of a connecting low-rise building for hotel ancillary uses such as lobby/reception, hotel restaurant/bar, kitchen, sundry shop, meeting rooms, restrooms and administrative spaces;

construction of a 332-space five-story parking structure along the northern parcel boundary adjacent to the Neptune Marina Apartments and Anchorage;

development of a concourse area connecting to an outdoor terrace above the waterfront pedestrian promenade;

development of an enhanced (muted) wetland park along the southern portion of the parcel;

development of new public transient dock space (560 linear feet) and public access improvements serving boaters in Basin B; and

enhancement of a 28-foot wide public promenade with public access improvements.

NEPTUNE MARINA — The proposed apartment community would include 526 apartment dwelling units, recreation amenities for the residents, public access improvements, a new marina and related boater facilities, with the full project occupying a total of 9.368 acres, according to county documents.

The project consists of four separate apartment buildings. Three buildings are to be developed on the B Basin side of Marquesas Way, abutting the Woodfin Suite Hotel and Vacation Ownership proposed development, and one building on the C Basin side of Marquesas Way.

To meet current State of California Department of Boating and Waterways guidelines for slip widths and federal requirements for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance through the use of an ADA-approved gangway and ramp system, the new marina would reduce the number of slips from the current 184 to 161, and the existing 14 end-ties would be replaced with 13.

A transient dock with a sewage pump-out facility would be provided, which would also provide for a water shuttle drop.

The enhanced anchorage facilities at Neptune Marina would include a separate boaters’ lounge facility located in Building 3, adjoining a new 28-foot wide waterfront promenade.

Adjacent to the boaters’ lounge will be the dockmaster’s office, and additional amenities for the boaters would include designated restrooms, showers and lockers in Buildings 1 and 2.

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