Opposition, frustration brings resort rental issue back to council

Island attorney Craig Woodward, city attorney hold differing opinions on legality of proposed ordinance

Article Highlights

  • Debate ensues on whether resort rentals are a current right
  • Chamber of Commerce, Marco Realtors Association oppose conditional use ordinance
  • Craig Woodward provides legal history, opinion on cities seeking to limit rentals
Community Development Director Steve Olmsted.

File

Community Development Director Steve Olmsted.

Craig Woodward, Marco Island Citizen of the Year, 2007.

Photo by JASON EASTERLY, Eagle staff

Craig Woodward, Marco Island Citizen of the Year, 2007.

Alan Gabriel smiles as the most controversial portion of his duties to support the Charter Review Committee, the legality of spending caps and amendments, comes to a wrap and other legal discussions in the charter continue Monday.

Photo by KELLY FARRELL, Staff

Alan Gabriel smiles as the most controversial portion of his duties to support the Charter Review Committee, the legality of spending caps and amendments, comes to a wrap and other legal discussions in the charter continue Monday.

— Bouncing between boards — that’s what’s been happening to proposed ordinances meant to regulate short-term rentals in residential areas on Marco the last couple years.

Monday, the issue is to bounce back to City Council again for a discussion.

Chairman Rob Popoff couldn’t be immediately reached to explain why the issue is back before council instead of going to the Planning Board, as was the last plan per discussions in June.

Community Development Director Steve Olmsted said he believes the reason is to provide direction to the Planning Board. He also pointed toward the possibility of publicly addressing the opinion provided by Island attorney Craig Woodward indicating the city may bring upon some legal challenges from Island businesses and realtors depending on how this city ordinance is adopted.

Council reviewed an ordinance which allowed resort rentals as a permitted right and agreed they would also like to consider a conditional use version, which would be more restrictive. That meant the Planning Board legally had to hold one more public meeting on the conditional use draft.

Members of Planning Board, particularly Vince Magee, said they were frustrated that the issue was coming back to them after they spent about a year working out compromises on the contentious issue, which has often pinned real estate investors and landlords against full-time homeowners, who say they are annoyed by the noise, trash and parking problems short-term renters sometimes bring to their neighborhoods.

While there has been agreement among many that the number of problem resort rental properties is limited, what neighbors to those properties, such as Ken Honecker and Karen Salvi, say is that the problems are frequent.

The most recent development among Islanders on the issue is a cohesive group which opposes a conditional use version of the proposed ordinance.

The Marco Island Chamber of Commerce and the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors have taken a stance that the resort rentals are already permitted on Island. Woodward was hired by Island property owners Randy Egan and John Mastanduono to provide a legal opinion on the matter, which all agreed could be shared with the Island organizations and other property owners supporting the right to rent.

“The current Marco Island Land Development Code allows for rentals in residential zones as a permitted use,” Woodward states in the legal opinion supplied to clients.

He adds: “If the right to rent is changed to a conditional use, that will constitute re-zoning the single family residential properties and by changing that zoning, the City of Marco Island will be taking away a vested property right, which owners have relied on in the purchase of their properties.”

The concept of whether short-term rental properties are even allowed in single family residential areas was at the crux of the issue several months ago.

Olmsted was of the opinion that short-term resort rentals were not currently allowed, but said it could be debated.

Woodward now states in his legal opinion that because the right is currently there, if the city does anything to unduly restrict short-term rentals, causing damage to property owners, those owners could collect damage from the city under state law.

With both a legal opinion indicating a possible conflict with the city, and a show of a large segment of the real estate and business community opposed to the conditional use ordinance, city officials may now be thinking to redirect the Planning Board to no longer look at conditional use and continue forward with the Planning Board’s original majority preference, which was for an ordinance that allowed rentals as permitted uses.

The conditional use and permitted use draft ordinances are available in related links, along with Community Development Director Steve Olmsted’s analysis of how the two versions compare, Craig Woodward's legal analysis and City Attorney Alan Gabriel's legal analysis obtained after Eagle print time Thursday.

Council is to discuss the matter during a council meeting beginning 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.

View a related story about accelerating the sewer project, ending the electric line project and other items on council’s agenda Monday in today’s issue of the Eagle.

Current drafts on the short term rentals were not released Thursday, earlier drafts with many of the same key points are in related documents

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Comments » 12

Scupperpuppy writes:

In addition to the legal problems that are likely to arise from changing the rental policies of homes in residential areas, one needs to be mindful of the Fire Marshall's requirements that he may impose which could be costly. Enforcement of disturbing the peace and other ordinances would be the best solution in my opinion

fairandbalanced writes:

This is precisely the WRONG time in our economy to be tinkering with this issue. It's been an enforcement issue since the beginning, involving only a handful of properties. It should be treated as such. Let's not legislate something that we'll all regret.

playballonK writes:

We have one creepy neighbor who calls on our rental to code enforcement 10-15 times a year, the rest of our neighbors have called ZERO (0) times. I do have to believe some people have nothing better to do but complain. Hey Salvi and Hoenecker go get yourselves a hobby or a part time job, seems like your boredom could finanacilay affect hundreds of people on this island.

Scupperpuppy writes:

In addition to the legal problems that are likely to arise from changing the rental policies of homes in residential areas, one needs to be mindful of the Fire Marshall's requirements that he may impose which could be costly. Enforcement of disturbing the peace and other ordinances would be the best solution in my opinion.

MrBreeze writes:

PlayballonK, Did you ever think that your "rental" is a cause for calling Code Enforcement?
I call these "Flophouse Rentals" because that is exactly what they are. They provide nothing more than a "cash flow" to cover expenses for the owner and the "rental agent" to make income. Face it, most people who own these properties could care less about the neighbors or the impact it will have. It is time to stop this practice now. If it remains I will set my home up as a drug rehab group home for "short term rental" and sit back and enjoy the income. Then we will see how it works out for renting.

playballonK writes:

Mcbreeze go look at the complaints down @ city hall 90% are by the same handful of people. I have met my other neighbors who live next to our rental house they say that our renters are never a problem, and that the bit%h that complains all the time is a miserable old hag with nothing better to do than to peer out her windows and call code.

jaguar writes:

Playballonk you really are wasting your time trying to reason with the long playing record Breeze.He is typical of the small minded old farts that have nothing better to do than whine 24/7.What you must remember it helps them, in their opiniun to remain part of the human race.You should really pity them their time on this planet is running out just as this whole subject is.The land of the free appears to have changed.For the WORSE.

MrBreeze writes:

Jaguar wake up look at the mirror see the old fart. For your information I am in my mid fourties. Your long playing record of crying forclosure, loss of income, having no home to leave to your kids bla, bla bla. Oh, by the way you never did have the guts to reveal the "flophouse rental" income right? Also did your friends in the UK come for their "flop" yet. I know how small your life is probally checking on your money 24/7 not caring about anything else. Keep crying poor I know your kind.
PlayballonK your neighbors if they are full time residents are either s----- or do not have the guts to tell it to your face it is wrong. That is why it is called a "RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD" not a "Flophouse Rental" or Motel or Daystay Get it.

jaguar writes:

Breeze you know nothing bleep,bleep,bleep,bleep,bleep,bleep,bleep, bleep,bleep, bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.NOTHING.You are a pratt.

MrBreeze writes:

Jaguar, Truth sometimes hurts and a saying way back from your era, "people in glass houses should not throw rocks".

SandShark writes:

How a rental ordinance is even on the table is too unreal. Have the homesteaders any idea of what makes Marco tick? Tourism!! We all are enjoying the island become more beautiful with every passing year as a direct result of tourism revenue. Vacation rentals have been Marco’s bread and butter long before the island was incorporated. Lose the rentals, and lose the quality of life. What are some of these homesteaders thinking? What are they doing to pump revenue into the Marco’s economy? And how could they not notice buying in a resort community? Moreover, it is one’s CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to do what we choose with our property. If you have regret for buying into such a community, you have the right to LEAVE.

playballonK writes:

sandshark; great post!

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