A restriction on placing new seawalls in front of older ones — instead of having to first rip the old ones out — might be lifted.
That is, if a recommendation by the Marco Island Waterways Committee finds favor first with the city planning board, and after that with city councilors.
Waterways committee member Donald Dilks said the recommendation arose after the committee was asked to try to come up with a better definition of a failed sea wall.
In reviewing the ordinance, the discussion turned to why placing new walls in front of old ones is prohibited, Dilks said.
“The significance (of lifting the prohibition) is not to repair a failed wall, but enables a wall to be repaired before it’s failed,” he said. “Typically, nobody replaces a wall until it has actually failed.”
Dilks said tearing out old walls has a substantial environmental impact on homeowners.
Plus, he added, it’s probable the ordinance was written before the advent and availability of new materials that make it possible to deal with sea walls before they’ve failed.
Dilks said the committee looked at possible avenues of objection as well before making the recommendation.
These included color, as well as recommending protrusions be limited to one foot to maintain aesthetic symmetry.
“A one-foot restriction shouldn’t make a noticeable difference, and most seawalls are covered with docks anyway,” he said. Any color issues would be subject to the permitting process.
Ultimately, he said, the benefits of allowing the change outweighs any negatives.
Realtor Jim Mashey said relative cost savings would be a factor in the equation.
He said too, that while the city has been talking about seawall replacement, there are variations in the walls’ projected lives.
“If you’re on the water in a main channel, there’s lots of traffic going past you and you get more wave action,” Mashey said. “That’s different from walls in the far reaches (of canals).”
Don Ricci of Marco Marine Construction also mentioned the age of walls, saying there are “extra remedies” available to help reinforce ageing walls.
He said some people might be worried by the potential accordion effect of the one-foot protrusion allowance.
Ricci said too, that a case-by-case approach might also be advisable in the long run.
The Marco Island Waterways Committee, comprised of seven members, meets once a month.
Members are appointed by city councilors, and serve annual terms that can be renewed.