Marco Island Planning Board: Mid-town makeover falls to new zoning administrator

On Friday, Planning Board member Bob Brown welcomes Joseph Irvin, new zoning administrator for Marco Island's Community Affairs Department. Irvin spoke to the Planning Board about redevelopment in Marco's mid-town district. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

On Friday, Planning Board member Bob Brown welcomes Joseph Irvin, new zoning administrator for Marco Island's Community Affairs Department. Irvin spoke to the Planning Board about redevelopment in Marco's mid-town district. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Community Affairs Director Bryan Milk (left) and new Zoning Administrator Joe Irvin address the Planning Board Friday on ways to revive redevelopment plans for Marco Island's mid-town. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Community Affairs Director Bryan Milk (left) and new Zoning Administrator Joe Irvin address the Planning Board Friday on ways to revive redevelopment plans for Marco Island's mid-town. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

As part of a Board of Realtors leadership group, Nikki Carroll (left), Michael Vale and Cynthia Corogin listen to Marco Island's Planning Board on Friday. The three said they visited the meeting to find out more about the community and how they could get involved. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

As part of a Board of Realtors leadership group, Nikki Carroll (left), Michael Vale and Cynthia Corogin listen to Marco Island's Planning Board on Friday. The three said they visited the meeting to find out more about the community and how they could get involved. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

— After four years, redevelopment in Marco’s mid-town is still a priority for Marco Island’s Planning Board.

On Friday, newly named Community Affairs Zoning Administrator Joe Irvin was tapped to head up a revival of plans for mid-town enhancements. His assignment included using the art of persuasion. The Planning Board tasked Irvin with solidifying buy-in from the zone’s stakeholders.

Irvin, previously a city planner for Sequim, Wash., made his first Planning Board presentation Friday suggesting the city define its goals and objectives for mid-town redevelopment; and then develop a draft matrix for businesses and the public to review.

The mid-town area includes Veteran’s Community Park, the Esplanade, Town Center and surrounding shopping plazas, East and West Elkcam Circles and portions of Bald Eagle Drive down to Marco River Marina.

Planning Board members agreed that the city botched the initial presentation of a Community Redevelopment Area or CRA for the island’s mid-town. The vision was too vague with no specific plans, they said.

“There was great confusion caused by the city,” said board member Monte Lazarus. “People didn’t know what the CRA was and people were afraid the city would come in and dictate the way things had to be.”

Two public planning charrettes in 2009 brainstormed ideas for improving the mid-town area. High on the list were solving traffic congestion, controlling storm runoff, adding landscaping, offering public transportation and maintaining commercial success for existing businesses.

During a contentious meeting in April 2010, Marco Island’s city council tabled plans for moving forward with the CRA. Instead, councilors opted to create an advisory committee. Steve Thompson, then city manager, told an angry crowd that the downtown area would not increase its value without an overriding plan.

At Friday’s Planning Board meeting, Marco Island’s Community Affairs Director Bryan Milk pointed to the charettes and ideas collected in the past as the starting point for reviving the process. He asked the board to consider hiring a consultant to move forward with public participation.

Milk suggested the board adopt a public process like the one used for Veterans’ Community Park. That final plan provided a roadmap for the park’s use and amenities. He asked the Planning Board to consider a similar action.

“Having public input in the process is very important to this board,” he said.

“I’d rather have the consultant play devil’s advocate,” said board member David Caruso. “Wouldn’t it make more sense for the city to go through ideas from key citizens and bring them back to us?”

Board members Marv Needles and Lazarus agreed that city staff should bring together all input into one package for review.

“We’re going around and around,” said Needles. “Let Joe bring it all together.”

Irvin felt the decision was a good one.

“A lot of good ideas have already been fleshed out for this project, and mid-town has some good ‘bones’ already in place,” Irvin added.

Board member Jack Patterson agreed that staff could do the legwork, but felt a consultant would make sense.

“We need some professional guidance in this,” he said.

The Planning Board chose to move forward asking the city to combine ideas from prior public meetings with an explanation of what had changed since the public planning charrettes. The board will review the information in January.

A formal presentation was set for March.

The Planning Board cancelled its Nov. 11 meeting, so members could attend the opening ceremonies at Veterans’ Community Park. The Planning Board’s next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 9, in the city’s Community Meeting Room at 51 Bald Eagle Drive.

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Comments » 1

ajm3s writes:

Dear Irwin:

Please read the opening statement of the Planning Board from the City of Marco Island website. In their own words, the first sentence:

"The Planning Board's focus is to enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors on Marco Island while managing growth and development and protecting the island’s tropical small town character."

Reference: http://www.cityofmarcoisland.com/inde...

In your role, I would suggest you review the expansionary plans proposed by the city and seriously ask yourself, is this in keeping with a "tropical small town character"?

All the whilst, the single family lots and homes are eroding away through foreclosure proceedings, etc.

Dear Mr. Lazarus:

We are informed, that is why there is a growth of concerned citizen groups, i.e. Marco Island Homeowners, Marco Eagle Sanctuary, Marco Island Tax Association, MI Charter School and others. These groups serve to represent citizens that inform and serve their cause. And these groups do not seem to be radical in their petitions to the city, in fact, they appear to me to be common sense in trying to promote a city of quality not quantity, for residents that came originally as visitors.

Specifically to your comment regarding the CRA; the CRA is not misunderstood by the folks. Please review the ordinances that were written last year to initiate such an entity. Need we remind you of the additional controls that the city would have been granted by such an ordinance?

And in keeping with the Planning
Boards of decades past, transfer of density credits is a abrogation of the Planning Boards responsibility as stated in its own opening statement. To transfer credits is in itself a recipe to radically change the landscape of this island by providing for density increases in areas that were not deemed as such. More so, than zoning variances.

If you wish to revitalize Market Center, there are a host of options available to the city without the need to transfer density credits.

So please stay focused on the fundamentals laid out by Planning Boards of decades past. The original Deltona plan is pretty good plan, in my opinion, unless you wish to sacrifice the single family residences at the expense of increasing density in locations that were not originally planned or established to have higher building elevations and/or increase density and associated parking demands.

If its all about increasing revenue which drive the city and Planning Board decisions, may I suggest you review exclusive communities to hone your vision. There is no need to exploit commercial areas by heightening density through transfer of credits. Quality vs quantity!

Unless of course, the agenda is to .......

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