MARCO ISLAND — UPDATE
The discussion of council's general support for a proposed charter high school was removed from Monday's City Council agenda. Chairman Frank Recker had initially requested it be on the agenda and then requested it be removed.
Council had discussed and expressed approval for the school on two prior occasions, Recker said. That includes when the high school was proposed at Mackle Park and then later when it was planned to be located at the YMCA. Since council expressed, through either general consensus or vote, an approval for the school at either of those last two locations, he saw no reason to discuss the proposal in general on a third occasion, he wrote in an email to a resident that he shared with the Daily News.
What's at stake
If approved by voters statewide on Nov. 2, Amendment 4 _ known as the Florida Hometown Democracy amendment _ will require referendums on many land-use issues. However, the high school location probably won’t be among the decisions left to voters.
If you go
Marco Island City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.
A vote on when to vote in Florida is around the corner, but next week Marco Island City Council members will decide two items that potentially could affect the way city residents vote.
Council is to discuss supporting the proposed charter high school and opposing statewide Amendment 4 during a meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday.
Many Marco residents have expressed interest in having the opportunity to vote on the proposed charter high school and where it may be located.
“If it is good for the community as a whole, and, if it is really needed, then let the people vote,” Marco Island resident Frances Enman said.
If approved by voters statewide on Nov. 2, Amendment 4 _ known as the Florida Hometown Democracy amendment _ will require referendums on many land-use issues.
However, the high school location probably won’t be among the decisions left to voters.
“I cannot envision a likely scenario that would require it,” city planner Kris Van Lengen said.
If approved, the amendment to the Florida Constitution would require a local referendum, at the expense of taxpayers, for all changes to any local government’s comprehensive land-use plan.
Schools are included in the comprehensive plan, but very specific zoning, which may need to be adjusted depending on where the proposed school is to be built, isn’t in the comprehensive plan. Thus, Amendment 4 doesn’t seem to increase the likelihood that Marco Island voters will have a final say on the proposed high school’s location.
Often called the “comp plan,” the comprehensive plan includes a general map of approximately what is to go where within a city or county. It includes density parameters, levels of service and guidelines on how much park space, road surface, library service and other elements of the community will be provided in the county or municipality.
Rather than such decisions being left to the planning board and then a city council or county commission, as is the current process, voters will have a chance to say “yes” or “no” to any changes or additions to the land-use plan.
Amendment 4, which will require 60 percent of the vote to pass, has its supporters and opponents in Marco.
Backers argue that the amendment is necessary to curb excessive growth and ensure that development comes with community backing.
Fay Biles, president of the Marco Island Taxpayers’ Association, has said “MITA is all for it.”
Enman also supports it.
“It is in the best interest of the people who pay the taxes in every county across Florida to have a voice in how they want their communities to be developed,” Enman said.
Opponents, however, have said it can go overboard and call it the “Vote-on-Everything” amendment. They have argued that it could hog-tie local governments and stifle real estate, general business, development and the overall economy.
The Marco Island Area Association of Realtors is among the organizations opposing the amendment.
Van Lengen also expressed concern.
The troublesome aspect for the city, he said, comes down to which items could require voters’ understanding and approval, including state-mandated changes that could deal with issues such as greenhouse gas reductions.
It’s not clear, Van Lengen said, whether amendments could be consolidated or if all would need to be separate ballot items.
“No one knows at this point because the amendment was not carefully thought out,” he said.
Van Lengen said it could be costly, too.
“Mandatory referenda could result in expensive advertising campaigns for and against any number of subjects and an unfunded mandate to spend taxpayer dollars on special elections,” he said. “The title of this ballot initiative sounds great, the details of it less so.”