MARCO ISLAND — Issues that nabbed Marco Council’s attention Monday were primarily those not on the agenda – or at least not quite as presented on the agenda. They included parking tickets given in residents’ driveways and errors discovered in the fertilizer rules.
Fertilizer regulations to protect waterways is tabled
Council was caught off-guard when the ordinance to regulate fertilizer-use was considerably different from the description of the ordinance given in the written introduction from city staff.
Community Development Director Steve Olmsted said it was a mistake and that the memo on key points of the ordinance, referred to as the “yellow sheet,” was based on an earlier draft.
Council tabled the issue, which was meant to restrict lawn fertilizing to protect water quality, fishing and shell-fishing.
“We think it needs to be more specific,” said Amber Crooks, natural resources specialist with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
Crooks encouraged council to approve an ordinance more similar to the information contained in the yellow sheet, which prohibited fertilizer use in the rainy season of June 1 through Sept. 30.
Also, an earlier draft of the ordinance specifically restricted phosphorous content of the fertilizer to no more than 2 percent and slow-release nitrogen content to no less than 50 percent.
Crooks said the Conservancy supports these more specific regulations and pointed out the differences in the ordinance before council and the description they were given by staff.
Vice Chairman Frank Recker thanked Crooks for clarifying the discrepancies.
Despite the tabling of the ordinance, council discussed the issue at length as Crooks and Marti Daltri, regional conservation organizer for the Sierra Club, attended the meeting to make presentations.
Councilman Ted Forcht asked how such an ordinance could be enforced.
“It’s impossible. You don’t have a lawn police to say that’s too much fertilizer. It’s not a punitive thing. It’s more of an education thing,” Daltri said.
“Some people look at sandy soil and see that a little fertilizer is good and think more is better,” she added.
Olmsted said the city needs to present scientific data to pass regulations more stringent than the state’s model ordinance. He expects to gather and present the data and come back to Council with the issue in November.
Residents on parking tickets in driveways
The most talked about issue: Residents who are getting parking tickets in their driveways.
Marco resident Jackie Howe thanked other residents for bringing the non-agenda issue up for discussion.
Animated, Howe pointed to her shoes and waved her arms as she described the conditions in her driveway and along the sidewalk “that leads to nowhere” in front of her house.
She said she received a $30 ticket from police when she parked partially blocking the sidewalk at the bottom of her driveway to avoid having to walk in puddles several weeks ago.
“You want me to walk through the water and mud and muddy my shoes?” she asked Council rhetorically.
“We have one ordinance that fits all and that’s the way it’s made,” said Councilman Wayne Waldack.
“Frankly, we’re to blame,” said Chairman Rob Popoff.
Council had suggested police and code compliance officers more strictly enforce the regulations already on the books rather than creating a new ordinance to regulate short-term resort rentals in single-family neighborhoods.
Popoff said the direction wasn’t very clear on how best to address the resort rental problems, including parking violations, trash, high-occupancy, noise and other complaints from neighbors to such rentals.
The issue of increased neighborhood enforcement is to be discussed 2 p.m., Oct. 19.
Council approved on first reading an ordinance regulating trees on public property. A change that one landscape professional said he liked about the new ordinance was the increased ability for residents to plant private trees on public land.
Al Benarroch, owner of Affordable Landscaping, said his company gets several requests from property owners wanting to plant trees in front of their house in the swales because they see them on Winterberry Drive and in some other areas of the island.
However the requests haven’t been permitted with the city.
“We’re losing business,” Benarroch said.
City Manager Steve Thompson said the ordinance will address that issue.
A separate ordinance is to be drafted and considered in the future that will regulate trees on private property, which was controversial when the idea was broached by Council in August.
“Thank God for government to protect us from our trees,” said Recker, adding that he was being facetious.
“Part two is going to be coming,” Parks and Recreation Director Bryan Milk said.
“I’m afraid of set two ... We’re regulating something that doesn’t need to be regulated,” responded Forcht.
The ordinance regulating tree planting and maintenance on public property was approved 5-2 with Recker and Forcht opposing the ordinance.
A second reading will be required for the ordinance to take effect.
Monday's meeting will be rebroadcast on TV Channel 98, at 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.
Due to a technical problem with wireless internet service, the live Council blog was not able to be posted during the meeting Monday evening.