Will art proposal have businesses seeing red?

Restaurant owner’s parking woes solved; debate to be continued on whether to require businesses to sponsor art

Article Highlights

  • Businesses to be required to sponsor art?
  • Shell and gravel driveways get requests for approval
  • Joey's Pizza gets more seats, more shared parking

— Marco Island’s Planning Board finally got a majority for a recommendation on parking at Joey’s Pizza, but the proposed requirement for new or renovated businesses to pay for works of art kept the members from blending harmoniously.

The Planning Board met Friday morning in the community room, with Chairman Brian Moss and member Bill Sneddon absent. The five members present heard from restaurant owner Joe Oliverio and Thilo Bayer, part owner of the Collier Building next door to Joey’s Pizza and president of the Collier Building Condo Association.

“I’m losing customers,” lamented Oliverio. “People continually walk away from my business. They have nowhere to wait for a table.”

Bayer has agreed to lease Oliverio parking spaces at the Collier Building, allowing Joey’s to add 28 outdoor seats.

“We close at 10, but sometimes we stay open to take care of people who can’t get served. If we get extra seats, I might be able to close sooner, ’cause people are waiting.”

City planner Kris Van Lengen said staff was in favor of granting the request, with the stipulation that the leased spaces be turned over to the pizzeria only after 5 p.m. each day. Board member Monte Lazarus, stating “this type of regulation is absurd,” agreed to forward the recommendation, but said he will write a separate concurrence for the City Council expressing his concerns.

With vice chairman Jim Riviere casting the deciding vote, the board agreed to support Oliverio’s petition by a 3-2 margin.

When the issue of requiring some business owners to fund public art when they build or renovate commercial buildings came up, city clerk Laura Litzan presented the case for the proposal, in her capacity as staff liaison to the Arts Board.

Planning Board member Vincent Magee took on the cause of championing private property rights, protesting that “we’re going to force a business owner to put a piece of art on his property he may or may not like. This is outrageous. You can contribute art, but it has to be approved by the City Council. If my definition of art isn’t Laura’s, then it doesn’t get approved.”

Tempers flared on the board over whether the money required would be a fee or a tax. Lazarus mentioned the public art “fee,” and Magee jumped in. “Tax, or fee?” he demanded.

“When you stop screaming at me, I’ll answer,” Lazarus replied.

“You haven’t heard me scream,” rebutted Magee, prompting moderator Riviere to ask the board members to please allow the presenter to proceed.

Two events would trigger the proposed ordinance, said board member Irv Povlow, construction of a new commercial building or a renovation costing 50 percent of the building’s worth. Community development director Steve Olmsted assured the board the money would constitute a fee, not a tax.

Riviere suggested the ordinance might be “fundamentally flawed,” being actually closer to another impact fee. Lazarus made a motion to table the discussion until the board’s next meeting, and look for alternatives to make the proposal more palatable to affected building owners.

Litzan concluded with a plea to keep the purpose of the arts measure in mind.

“We’ve forgotten why we’re here – the public value of the arts. Arts foster beauty … and are a powerful and dynamic economic force,” she said. “They help revitalize downtowns, attracting and retaining residents and commercial interests.”

The board passed the motion to continue the discussion, and moved on to the question of whether to allow stone and shell driveways. Longtime islander Bob Olson, having already spoken in favor of Joey’s expansion, made a second trip to the podium in his Looney Tunes necktie to speak for shell drives.

“Steve Olmsted’s attitude, that we should make this island another Beverly Hills, is borderline crazy,” he said.

The next meeting is scheduled Sept. 11. The Sept. 25 meeting was canceled and replaced with a workshop on Oct 2.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 8

jwputnam writes:

I cannot believe what I am reading! Let me see....as long as I fund Laura's pet art projects, I will be allowed to do business on Marco Island? This would be the same Laura Litzan that gave us "Marco Man"...the sculpture that could not find a home.

Marco Island is unbelievably off course. It is such a shame. The New England mob really needs to go back north.

How can you citizens stand this? Are you all brain dead?

marcoislander writes:

oliverio if your loosing business move somewhere larger there is already to much traffic in that area. Next you will be asking for a rock band outside. lazarus you seem to be the only sane one there. thanks for voting NO.

happy6 writes:

joey needs to dig up some more chicago cash and buy a bigger building...maybe in the glades.

sailingalong writes:

This is a really bad idea. We don't need any more petty committee's dictating what is "art". Marco Man is a prime example. Many of us think he is a joke and a disgrace.

condoseller writes:

Public Art has a place in our community. It is unfortunate that the Art Foundation, the City and the Art League couldn't work together to support all public art efforts through the Art League. Perhaps if that had happened, we wouldn't have that blue piece of junk in front of city hall and the Art League would be thriving (instead of hurting as is the Art Foundation).

ajm3s writes:

What happened to private donations for art or art is in the eye of the beholder (not the taxpayer).

JohninMarco writes:

Can we finally get some new people on these boards. Mr. Lazarus is on almost every board or committee and seems to be WAY out of touch with both businesses and residences.

jimbo46marco writes:

We like Joey's but only go out of season. He is right, he is losing business during the season but it is a combination of parking, seating and servers. Tough on Marco because when you add size to handle the bigger crowds usually the freshness of food suffers, bigger is harder to manage and then you are stuck with big overhead for the 8 months when there is no pressure...how about Joey's south, Joey...down by Marco walk or over by Publix.

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