The Marco Island City Planning Board met on March 4. There was discussion regarding parking in the swales in Old Marco. Public Works Director Tim Pinter has requested that the decision regarding this parking issue be delayed until after season. He said that the swales are being monitored by the public works and the police departments for damage due to parking, at this time. They have reported that there is none. City Manager Roger Hernstadt said that he does not object to the delay until after the season, but would like to see further discussion and a decision in June.
St. Mark’s Church is in the process of reconstructing their playground. The new play structures, which the church has ordered at a discounted price, do not match the color scheme as indicated in the code for Marco Island. However, the Planning Board unanimously passed a motion to allow the deviation of code in this case, citing that there have been no objections or complaints from neighbors and it would present a hardship for the church if this permission were not granted.
There was discussion concerning the proposed amendment of the Land Development Code now being reviewed with consultants Calvin & Giordano Associates. Some goals of this proposed amendment would be to “resolve inconsistent definitions, terms, standards, and processes within the Land Development Code,” and the “incorporation of new standards, programs, processes, and methods to facilitate sustainable community and neighborhood growth throughout the city.”
The Marco Island City Council held its regular meeting on March 7. Chairman Bob Brown read a letter from County Manager Leo Ochs stating that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has directed Collier County to create a Local Rule Review Committee (LRRC) to review proposed changes to manatee protection zones and provide recommendations and comments on the proposed changes. Marco Island Police Captain Dave Baer will represent the island.
The Water and Sewer Department announced plans for an open house on May 3 with a tour of the water treatment facility. A presentation will be given on water and sewer operations and the utility capital improvement program.
Fire Chief Mike Murphy is working with City Attorney Alan Gabriel to submit the required documentation to formally request a COPCN from Collier County. The council gave their consensus to put the resolution forward, to gauge the Collier County Commission’s position on emergency medical services for Marco Island. Councilor Larry Honig expressed some concern, saying he would hate to see our city officials involved in a strident argument with the county. He made a suggestion of leading with the quality of service argument, rather than an argument of money. Councilor Honig questioned if there is any way to maintain our inter-local agreement with the county. Chief Murphy steadfastly held that this is a control issue. He said, “Lack of control will have an adverse effect.” City Manager Hernstadt said, “We are going through the process to establish the facts in this issue.” He went on to say that if Collier County can present an acceptable plan to the city, that would be favorable. But if that plan is unacceptable to Marco Island, the city needs a backup plan.
The Fertilizer Ordinance passed with a 6 to 1 vote. Councilor Victor Rios voted against the ordinance, as he objects to the requirement of a permit for homeowners. The permit will be at no cost and will be easily accessible at www.cityofmarcoisland.com. City Manager Hernstadt said that in his opinion, without this free permit, you increase the failure of code compliance by “1000%”. This free permit will also educate persons about to apply fertilizer on the new code requirements and the specifics of the code compliant fertilizers. Linda Turner, a member of the Beautification Advisory Committee, spoke from the audience, advocating the requirement of permitting.
The Esplanade Agreement Resolution passed with a 6 to 1 vote. Councilor Ken Honecker voted against the agreement. At the last city council meeting, the agreement was not ratified, because of questionable language that had been added by the Esplanade. That language was removed from the documents prior to its ratification at the meeting on March 7. The agreement grants an easement to the City of Marco Island with no liability for potential claims that may come about from the city’s use of Esplanade property.
In reporting on the business of city government, it is the writer’s obligation and intention to write without bias. However, no matter how unbiased a journalist strives to be, there does exist a degree of bias that is difficult to avoid, simply based on that particular journalist’s choice of topics that they choose to include and highlight. City Manager Roger Hernstadt has expressed his desire for total transparency to the public in all matters of our city government no matter how, in his words, “mundane” that matter may appear to be. An example at the March 7 council meeting was a six-inch encroachment in a rear yard residential setback. That transparency can be experienced in evidence by visiting our city website www.cityofmarcoisland.com. There you will find videos of all our city government meetings along with the city calendar, announcements, agendas and all supporting documents. It is an excellent resource for the residents of Marco Island.