A beer at the Old Wooden Bridge? Opinions split

The prospect of having a beer near the “best bridge fishing in the Keys” draws decidedly mixed opinions.

The owners of the Old Wooden Bridge Cottages and Marina, a Big Pine Key motel at the bridge to No Name Key, in February applied to Monroe County for a “2-Cop” alcohol license, which would permit beer and wine sales, both package and on-site.

Since, more than 60 people have filed comments with the Monroe County Planning Department on whether the permit should be issued. As of this week, the pro side seemed to hold a very slim edge, with several vacationers who frequent the cottages voicing support for the license.

The issue was placed on Wednesday’s agenda of the county’s Planning Commission at the Marathon Government Center, but an agent for Old Wooden Bridge Cottages this week filed a request to have the request continued until the board’s July meeting.

We “are planning on submitting an updated site plan on what we are planning to do in the future,” property representative David Banks wrote to county staff May 20. Banks could not be reached at press time.

County rules allow applicants to receive one continuance, so discussion of the Old Wooden Bridge license seems unlikely at Wednesday’s meeting, said county Senior Planning Director Mayte Santamaria. Any additional continuances sought by the applicant would need approval from the Planning Commission.

Critics of the permit do not object so much to drinking, but to the possibility of added noise and more traffic drawn to a relatively quiet neighborhood overlooking waters of Bogie Channel.

The Key Deer Protection Alliance opposes the license, fearing an increase in deaths of the protected, diminutive deer caused by vehicles drawn to the community.

“They have told us multiple times that if they get the on-site license, they will build an outdoor tiki bar with live music,” wrote Big Pine resident Maureen McKeefery in opposing the beer and wine permit. “Needless to say, the sound will carry across the water and greatly disturb the tranquility of the Key Deer Wildlife Refuge on both No Name and Big Pine Keys.”

Tiffany Wilson of Big Pine is among local supporters of the permit. “I know after a day fishing, people like to just sit and relax with a drink or two and watch the sunset or just watch the wildlife,” she wrote. “I believe the upgrade that is being done at the OWB marina is in the best interest of snowbirds and locals all the same.”

Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206