Monday, January 24, 2022

Planning Board discusses Density Credit Ordinance



By Pat Newman

Acknowledging that there is “work to be done here,” Planning Board Chairman Charlette Roman and fellow members will once again review proposed changes to the Density Credit Transfer Ordinance at its March 20 meeting. With the end of the temporary moratorium set on density credit transfers looming, the board chose to continue its discussion from March 6 after debating the language contained in the ordinance and the actual number of credits that exist. Alan Gabriel, Planning Board Attorney recommended that the proposed ordinance which was advertised for public hearing be “reformatted” and more importantly that it is “consistent with the (city’s) comprehensive plan.” In essence, density credit ratio transfers were originally proposed to give developers an opportunity to use credits as building incentives in the midtown district, but not penalize the city by removing any waterfront credits from city records. The three point goal is to stimulate renewal and investment in the city’s midtown district, reduce density and increase revenue to the city.

There are currently, according to early calculations, 352.8 commercial density transfer credits and 139.2 city-owned credits. In theory, a developer has to have at least 50 percent of the required density for the project to be eligible to buy more density credits. Once that it is determined, the developer can then buy additional credits from the commercial market while also purchasing a percentage of credits from the city. The credits purchased from the city would be retired, and removed from the rolls with the city keeping the purchase money.

Determining a fair and equitable formula has caused the most discussion. Also, the question was pondered on whether or not businesses now holding credits would even be interested in selling them.

In other business at its initial March meeting, the board was briefed on the details of several special construction projects slated for the Marriott Beach Resort’s massive renovation. The hotel will shut down for 90 days beginning in May for a major facelift and new construction. New features will include a third tower, and a transformation of the A- frame entrance. Plans call for adding Polynesian-styled curved beams, which is in keeping with the original theme of Marco Island developers, the Mackle Brothers. The current Marriott opened as the Marco Beach Hotel in 1965 with just 50 rooms. A major expansion occurred in 1971 with the addition of one tower and a total of 400 rooms. Its grand opening featured a luau and the opening of Quinn’s, a restaurant replicating a Tahitian bistro. Other improvements will be made to the Sunset Bar, pool, south tower and the hotel’s restaurants, Kurrents and Tropiks. The projects have been “vetted” through city staff and will now go through the building permit process, according to Tami Scott of the city’s growth management department.

The board also approved a site development plan for construction of an “administration building” to be built on two adjacent lots on South Barfield Drive across from Publix and the Shops of Marco. The 11,000 structure will be called the Garske Building and initially be used to store a car collection and memorabilia owned by Stephen Garske. The plan meets city guidelines regarding zoning, land use, architecture and parking. The site is adjacent to residential property on the backside, so it was suggested by the project’s attorney Craig Woodward, that a simple wall might serve as a better buffer than the originally proposed “faux windows.” He said adjacent residents would be asked for their input.

A site improvement plan for an existing building on the corner of E. Elkcam and North Barfield was presented by the Moose Lodge of Marco and will be given a second look at the March 20 meeting. While the organization purchased the 10,000 square foot building in 2013, it has remained vacant, while the Moose are renting facilities for their meetings. Scott called it a “challenging project” citing the existing condition of the structure, parking restraints, its architecture and landscaping. The building was constructed under Collier County 30 to 40 years ago and used as a doctor’s office. Now it is considered an existing non-conforming building by city code. The board that the petitioners go back to the drawing board and look at a phased improvement process.


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