Holmes Beach officials praise new state law expanding city's boundaries

HOLMES BEACH -- Several Holmes Beach officials are rejoicing after Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill this week that expands the city boundaries.

Under House Bill 1327, Holmes Beach boundaries now include submerged lands next to the Grassy Point Preserve -- a wetland and underwater seagrass area.

Holmes Beach Commissioner Marvin Grossman said it's something city officials have wanted for several years.

"It's really one of the last fishing nurseries that's undeveloped and it's going to stay that way, of course, under our control," Grossman said. "We want to control it so that it would never be destroyed or overused."

The commissioner recalls discussing this when he was elected more than three years ago.

Grossman describes the submerged lands as a sensitive area.

"Boats shouldn't be there at low tide," he said. "It's (the bill passage) a very positive thing for the county, I believe. ... When you start looking around for undeveloped area that are mangroves -- it's kind of sparse nowadays."

Holmes Beach Commission Chairwoman Judy Titsworth also welcomed the news.

"That's awesome," she said, adding it helps the city control more preserved lands. "We were hoping (for this) so that's awesome. That's good news."

Holmes Beach Commission Vice Chairwoman Jean Peelen said she is pleased, too.

"This is really a protection. That's an environmentally sensitive area and our concern had been the more popular that Grassy Point Preserve gets, the more it might attract boaters and people to come in there. ... We had no control over the waters around it," she said. "From our perspective, it gives us the possibility of regulating it so that we don't get destruction happening. ... It's more protection for Grassy Point Preserve."

Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.