Businesses on Marco Island don’t have to recycle along with rest of Collier County— yet

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Should Marco Island require commercial recycling along with Lee, Collier counties?

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— Businesses in unincorporated Collier County, Everglades City and the City of Naples have been required by ordinance to recycle for years— meanwhile Marco Island lags behind as space and cost negotiations continue.

Collier County continues to strongly encourage Marco to adopt their regulations.

Daniel Rodriguez, Collier’s solid waste director, went before City Council on several occasions saying the city, accounting for about 6 percent of the county population and trash, could assist in extending the time the county has before filling their landfill. Rodriguez is also attempting to meet the state mandate of recycling 75 percent of its materials by 2020 and Marco Island could put a significant dent in that, he said.

“It’s one of their top priorities to bring Marco Island into the mandatory recycling fold,” said City Planner Kris Van Lengen.

The Marco Island Planning Board considered a draft ordinance on Friday morning that would adopt requirements of Collier County’s commercial recycling ordinance with some accommodations for space concerns in many of the island’s business areas. The proposed interlocal agreement would use Collier County resources for implementation of the new commercial and multifamily requirements, such as hauler qualifications, that city officials didn’t think they had the resources to track, Van Lengen said.

Business owners have requested accommodations from the city and county relating to parking space credits to make up for space lost due to additional containers, set back leniency, zero lot line accommodations for neighboring commercial lots and relief from the screening requirement to hide the bins.

The Planning Board suggested Friday that the city offer an accommodation of one parking space credit, which means loosening their requirement of one parking space per 250 square feet of commercial space in many instances, such as at restaurants.

Marco Island Restaurant Association President Joey Oliverio has said he supports recycling, but the owner of Joey’s Pizza has often struggled to meet parking requirements for his restaurant on an island short on parking during the high-tourist winter months.

Screening requirements around trash, and soon recycle bins, may present another concern, said Planning Board member Marv Needles, who also owns a commercial property on Collier Boulevard.

The concern is having to redo the screening to fit the new bin sizes.

“If we’re going to have someone spend $500 to put a screen up around something that is on two wheels, then common sense doesn’t work here,” Needles said.

Most of the planning board members agreed, although aesthetics was a concern for some.

“I hate to burden small businesses with another expense, but for the look of the city... That’s a tough one,” said Planning Board member Vince Magee.

Greater Marco Island Chamber of Commerce President Vip Grover, who wasn’t immediately available to comment on Friday, has said earlier this month that the Chamber is not yet completely behind the county regulations. However, he said, the Chamber supports recycling.

Chamber members’ concerns included a lack of substantiation that the regulations won’t present a new cost coming from increased staff time for separating materials and hiring a contractor for hauling them.

Rodriguez has reported a potential annual savings of as much as $1,300 because recycle hauling is less expensive than taking trash to the landfill.

“Our members are totally supportive of this, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have questions and we’re not skeptical, particularly about costs and savings,” Grover has said.

Negotiations are to continue, the Planning Board decided on Friday. Another draft ordinance may be considered as early as June at a public hearing to include public and business-owner input, Van Lengen said.

In the meantime, he continues to work out space leniency options that the city can offer businesses.

“The guts of recycling is thou shall recycle. We’re working on making accommodations, helping with economics and adding flexibility to help businesses comply,” he said.

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