Density transfer plan gains initial approval by Marco Island City Council

— A plan to transfer waterfront commercial density to any commercial property within Marco Island’s Midtown District has passed an initial hurdle.

At the first reading of the proposed ordinance, council members voted 4-to-3 Monday night in favor of the plan.

Late last year, City Council asked the Planning Board to review development standards in the Midtown District (also known as the Town Center district) to determine whether existing codes inhibit private development. At council’s request, the city sought the expertise of Dr. James Nicolas, a well-respected urban and regional planning expert and professor emeritus at the University of Florida, who concluded that waterfront density transfers are a viable consideration for a small city like Marco Island to create diversity in the Midtown district which could enhance its vitality.

A maximum of 200 credits could be transferred from one waterfront area to another waterfront area within the Midtown District to allow for one to two limited-use hotels with no more than 150 rooms. Planning officials reason that new hotels could stimulate re-development in the District and create a pedestrian friendly environment while ensuring that any development plans gain City Council approval. During its April 1 public meeting, the Planning Board recommended approval of the ordinance to allow waterfront credits to be used at any location downtown, but removed wording that specified hotel use, with the reasoning that the imagination of developers and market demand will ultimately decide the best land use.

“This adds a tool to the city’s tool box,” City Planner Kris Van Lengen told councilmen at Monday’s meeting.

City Councilors had mixed opinions on the issue, with Joe Batte, Larry Magel and Chuck Kiester voting against the measure. They cited concerns among hotel owners both large and small that existing properties are having a difficult time filling rooms and that the added competition would only make the issue worse.

Councilman Batte expressed concern that the ordinance is unnecessary.

“I see government getting involved in something that the private sector already does well,” he told fellow councilors.

“If it were left to me, I’d take out the wording that allows the exchange of units from mixed use,” added Kiester.

But other council members argued that future development is limited by the island’s comprehensive plan, the proposed ordinance is a conservative measure and that the board would still have to approve any future development plans.

“What I am fearful of is the other side of government telling someone they can’t come and put up a hotel,” stated Chairman Jerry Gibson. “Do we say we can’t have more restaurants or more churches because there are already empty tables and empty pews?”

“It’s a very controlled approached,” added Councilman Bill Trotter.

With council’s initial approval, the public will have a chance to express their opinions during a future meeting.

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Comments » 5

captnjimbo writes:

A slippery slope...Islandeye is right.

RayPray writes:

in response to islandeye1#236971:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"The end result will be increased density that equals more people, more traffic...."

>>> From Marco Point Person for the "Charlie Rangel Defense Fund"? Agog anybody must be at the pelucidity of this remark!

http://www.rangelprogram.org/

>>> Next time you decide to sink yourself down to orgies of Goldman Sex with Pelosi, Rangel & Reed -- Sounds like a Florida TV Shyster law firm? -- don't also forget from your fresh pal Cicero:

"Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error."

ajm3s writes:

"...and create a pedestrian friendly environment while ensuring that any development plans gain City Council approval"

What's with this pedestrian friendly environment? There are folks that currently walk on the street (some with dogs) because there are no sidewalks.

Let's see where can we start? How about Barbados between, Grapewood and Rockhill Courts. I know it is not in the development zone but it is used quite often by PEDESTRIANS. But since there are vacant lots on both sides of the street, the folks need to walk in the street. Interesting, and this is what we consider a pedestrian city. Is it because they are only single family homes in this area? Why pray tell is there no sidewalk? Is safety any concern, since it usually is the first item listed in many ordinances.

Again, where are the cities priorities? We want a pedestrian friendly city, yet we have miles of roadways without sidewalks because a vacant lot is present.

I say put on your walking shoes. Can we finish the build out by developing sidewalks on roads that were laid out at the island's infancy; so that we can truly claim we are sensitive to pedestrians?

Ah! I know the city wants more to accommodate commercial development and increase density in certain areas, but we may need to drive there. So are we to then create more parking to address the denser zone? Oh what are we to do? I forgot, we are a pedestrian city so we will walk there. Really? Or is it pedestrian traffic for that area only?

Recommendation: provide sidewalks in existing neighborhoods before we transfer credits and claim to be a pedestrian city. It might be a worthy goal in promoting this marketing campaign.

OldMarcoMan writes:

I love Daytona, when do the Strippers and Bikers come to town ?

Marconian writes:

in response to OldMarcoMan:

I love Daytona, when do the Strippers and Bikers come to town ?

(Bump)

HaHa! I would like to know that as well!

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