An Eastpoint icon, long owned by the late Fred Millender, a colorful and outspoken seafood dealer, will soon give way to RVs.
Millender’s daughter Susan Reeder secured unanimous permission Tuesday morning from county commissioners to rezone a little less than one-third acre parcel, at 332 Patton Drive, from C-1 Commercial Fishing to C-3 Commercial Recreation. This makes way for the granting of a special exception and the creation of four coastline RV cottages once site plan approval is completed.
“We’ve been in the seafood industry for years, my father before me and my grandfather, for about 50 or 60 years total,” she said. “Due to the issues of the bay now I can’t get oysters. We’re at a place where we’re out of business and there’s nothing else to do.
“We can transition into this other project we want to do, four cottage houses,” Reeder said. “We’re trying to make work and get something going again and not sit home and do nothing. We’re doing it out of hardship, out of necessity to continue working. We still need to pay our bills.”
Reeder said she has tried to get “LA” oysters from Louisiana, but that hasn’t been easy. She told Commissioner Smokey Parrish that the project means tearing down the small building where Fred Millender once held court.
Amy Kelly, the county’s zoning administrator, said the cottages would be for short-term transient stays, and would have to be evacuated during a tropical storm event, as well as be moved off-site, and returned, at least once every 180 days.
“They have to be evacuated,” she said. “They can be below low elevation but they have to be tagged road ready and have to be moved off-site.”
Kelly said any loans connected to the units would require they be moved in the event of an evacuation. “If they don’t move it, we would not allow them to put anything back there,” she said.
Reeder said plans are to move the units immediately in the event of a storm. “We would not leave it there to be destroyed, devastated. They can be disconnected in a matter of 45 minutes.”
Parrish also asked what effect the zoning change would have on the county’s insurance rates, and Kelly said she would look into on what effect, if any, it could have.
“It’s not their fault, the oyster business went bad but they still have to pay their taxes,” said Chairman Noah Lockley. “They were working people in Franklin County. This is to me like survival mode. I’d try to do something too; I wouldn’t just throw in the towel.”