Friday, January 21, 2022

Planners Hesitate Again on Assisted Living

Robert Mulhere, the Director of Planning for Holes Montes, Inc., a consulting firm located in Naples and Ft. Myers, made another attempt to convince the Marco Island Planning Board that changes to the Land Development Code which would benefit his client would be beneficial and not place a an undue burden on the community. His client is seeking to construct an assisted living afcility with memory care on the property, known formerly as Sanitasole, on South Barfield Drive and two adjoining lots.

That property, in combination with vacant lots to the south and north would comprise just over one and a quarter acres in a residential zone. Under the present code they would only be able to construct 16 living units. Should the changes be enacted they would be permitted to build over 80 units.

Mulhere’s client, Win Porter, had previously been before the board with him in an unsuccessful attempt to make a similar argument. The financial formula for success of such a project was estimated at a threshold of 70-72 units, therefore requiring a higher density on the land being proposed for development by Porter’s group.

The crux of the debate centered on whether the project would be defined as residential or institutional. Mulhere would make his case around the “institutional” argument to maximize the usage of the available land.

Marco Island Planning Board Vice Chair Ron Goldstein once again voiced his dissatisfaction with the process. He complained that the board should be dealing with the zoning and definition issues and not the conceptual nature of assisted living facilities.

Others would again question the appropriateness of placing such a facility on a barrier island.  Some would also question how it might impact the widely discussed prospect of the city assuming responsibility for EMS and emergency transport services.

A comparable project was also dismissed during the June Planning Board Meeting, when similar concerns were raised. That project would sit on approximately 12 acres of land abutting the NCH Health Care Campus at the intersection of Bald Eagle and San Marco Road. That developer has gone back to the drawing board and is looking to make a proposal under the guise of a Planned Unit Development. 

That project would meet the criteria for a PUD and may provide their team with a more advantageous position to argue their viability. The Sanitasole project does not fit the requirements for a PUD due to its size.

The board would vote 4-1 to support staff’s recommendation that the proposal be rejected.  Planning Board Member Dick Adams would be the only dissenting vote.  Members Mulligan and Vergo were absent.

Other Business 

The Planning Board would approve five other projects, ranging from an increase in a privacy wall, to approval of a slight variance of a setback to allow for a chickee hut on a residential lot. In addition, they would also approve a site-plan for Caxambas Towers Condo Association to improve their drainage and parking facilities and a variance for a request for an encroachment into a riparian setback on a canal.

A review of a Site Development Plan for Chase Bank involving the old Burger King property at South Barfield and San Marco Road was rescheduled to allow for further adjustments.

The next meeting of the board will take place on September 7 at 9 AM in council chambers at 51 Bald Eagle Drive.

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