MARCO ISLAND — Apparently, the members of the city’s Planning Board are ready to putt a round.
As their first order of business Friday, the Planning Board took up miniature golf. They heard from one – make that two – proposed miniature golf facilities.
The agenda called for them to hear from petitioner Ronald Smith, on his plan to build a miniature golf course on Park Avenue. Before they did, though, local attorney Fred Kramer addressed the group, pushing his separate proposal, to open a mini-golf links called Marco Golf & Garden, to be located on Winterberry Drive adjacent to Sasso’s Restaurant.
“We’re concerned the city might say there should only be one miniature golf course” on the island, said Kramer. “If the city says only one, it should be the better of the two.” Kramer’s petition is scheduled to be considered by the Planning Board at their next meeting.
Board member Irv Povlow questioned whether they had jurisdiction over how many such businesses would be permitted on the island. No, said city attorney Burt Saunders.
“The proper location is the issue. The number of miniature golf courses is not a relevant issue.”
Board members seemed eager to greenlight Smith’s project, offering suggestions on additional revenue sources such as food, and granting hours of operation longer than had been requested for Putting Thru Paradise. Smith had asked for 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the board pushed it forward to 8 a.m., perhaps because early morning tee times are prized at country clubs.
They also amended the petition to allow the business to stay open later when the city is holding special events at Veterans’ Community Park, adjacent to the facility. In addition, as Smith said his research shows the majority of revenue for mini-golf comes in after dinner, the course will not have to douse the lights at 10 p.m., but can accept golfers up till that time.
“We want this to be successful,” said board member Marv Needles. “If they want to add sandwiches, why not?”
“I’d like to see it done with maximum flexibility,” said member Monte Lazarus.
City of Marco zoning administrator Joe Irvin noted that all comments received had been in favor of the golf course, and a stack of email printouts to that effect were included with the planning board’s information packet.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” added vice chairman Jack Patterson, chairing the meeting in the absence of chairman Dick Shanahan. There were questions about screening vegetation, the 15-foot tower/waterfall proposed, and the need and location for a dumpster, as well as the use of coated chain link fence, which could only be used in that area if a variance is granted.
Smith said after the meeting he has spent his career in the automotive industry, making parts for the Big Three carmakers, and has lived on Marco Island since 2001. He hopes to open his business in a year, coinciding with the fall opening of the Farmers’ Market at Veterans’ Park.
Smiths’ petition was approved unanimously, and goes on the City Council. Kramer’s petition will be taken up by the Planning Board on Jan. 6.