Keith Connors

Weekdays 10a-3p

Tampa’s Beer Can Island may get crushed in to preserve. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing? The Hillsborough County Commission is considering a proposal to designate a privately owned island formerly known as Beer Can Island as a private nature preserve. The island, now marketed as Pine Key Tampa Bay, has been operating as a commercial bar and special events center for the past five years. However, safety concerns have been raised by various authorities, including the Tampa Bay Pilots Association, the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office, and the county’s Fire Rescue Department.

They have called for a designated landing spot for a helicopter in the event of an emergency evacuation due to the island’s proximity to shipping channels to and from Port Tampa Bay. The staff report also noted that Pine Key’s traffic could require altering shipping schedules to accommodate island activity, affecting maritime commerce. There’s also been mention of the tacky appearance being similar to a teenager’s fort in the woods.

Pine Key’s owners have attempted to obtain proper zoning, but the county declined their two previous attempts due to environmental concerns and the broad scope of the quasi-public land label. Although the code enforcement case remains in abeyance, the island’s party business is in danger of being shut down. Pine Island CEO Cole Weaver, however, is hopeful of an amicable resolution, although he did not rule out future litigation. TBT