MARCO ISLAND — With questions still unanswered, Marco Island’s Planning Board voted to table endorsement of a public right-of-way handbook draft. According to Tim Pinter, Public Works Director, City Council had expected discussing the handbook at its April 16 meeting. Planning board members said they would reconsider the handbook’s content in July.
Voting to table endorsement of the handbook were board members Bob Brown, Monte Lazarus, Jack Patterson and Chairman Dick Shanahan. David Caruso, Marv Needles and Irv Povlow voted against tabling it.
The motion also requested city staff meet with residents in the interim to consider comments raised by the public at three meetings discussing the handbook. Planning board members asked staff to provide definitive data on the value of vegetation versus inorganic materials for handling pollutants in swales. They suggested Nancy Ritchie, city environmental specialist, provide the board with available information.
Board member Brown asked for a clearer understanding of what changes the new handbook would put in place. The document did not provide a side-by-side comparison of new language with previously approved code.
Pinter said even though the concepts in the new handbook provided the same information as standing code, the new version was a complete rewrite. Strikethroughs were not possible because only a few paragraphs were kept, he said.
Kelly Linman, local resident and attorney, felt the handbook, if taken literally, would require too many decisions by the Public Works Department. Using an example, he said if someone put a shovel to the city’s right-of-way, or swale area, to replace a browned patch of grass, the handbook required Public Works to decide if a permit was necessary.
If a permit were required, it would necessitate all other steps in the document be enforced including replacement of inorganic materials, traffic studies, engineering designs and fees, he said.
Pinter said the intent for permitting was triggered by “new construction” or “teardowns” and not small repairs.
“If you lose your mailbox, you don’t have to get a permit to fix your mailbox,” he said. “If you’re doing a driveway, there may be fewer requirements (than in the handbook).” On less traveled streets such as Lamplighter Drive, the city would not ask for a traffic study even in the event of a teardown, he explained.
Jason Bailey, a resident and business owner, agreed the handbook might add too many burdensome regulations, making renovations to driveways and sidewalks too expensive and cumbersome. He suggested changing the handbook’s verbiage that allowed Public Works to waive permits, if it determined to do so, to simply state that permits would be waived for certain types of driveway and sidewalk repairs.
The issue of widening 4-foot sidewalks to 6-foot or 8-foot sidewalks, depending on pedestrian traffic, solicited a number of comments from the board and public. New construction and permitting of major renovations would require minimum 6-foot sidewalks even if adjacent homes had 4-foot sidewalks.
“I can’t picture sidewalks on the same street with varying sizes: in and out, in and out,” said Brown.
Pinter said the move to 6-foot sidewalks brought the city in line with ADA requirements.
In other business, the Planning Board unanimously approved a setback variance for Joey’s Pizza and Pasta House that would allow a permanent retractable awning in its side yard and a 14-foot protrusion further back for a replacement shed and commercial recycling bin.
The board also approved replacement of a 1,157-foot seawall at the city’s North Water Treatment Plant. The new wall would be 10 feet high allowing a containment swale to be created landside.
The Planning Board’s next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m., May 4, in the Community Room’s Council Chambers, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.