After two-year hiatus, Marco Island Planning Board revisits Midtown District

Planning Board members, from right, Jack Patterson, vice chairman; Dick Shanahan, chairman; Bob Brown; and Monte Lazarus listen to a proposal by Joe Irvin, city zoning administrator, on upgrading Marco's midtown district. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Planning Board members, from right, Jack Patterson, vice chairman; Dick Shanahan, chairman; Bob Brown; and Monte Lazarus listen to a proposal by Joe Irvin, city zoning administrator, on upgrading Marco's midtown district. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Using this map, Marco Island's Planning Board heard a draft proposal Friday for eight sub-districts to be created within the midtown area. The sub-districts are shaded in separate colors. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Using this map, Marco Island's Planning Board heard a draft proposal Friday for eight sub-districts to be created within the midtown area. The sub-districts are shaded in separate colors. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

— Vowing to do a better job with public communication, Marco Island’s Planning Board reopened discussion Friday on the Midtown District.

Joe Irvin, zoning administrator, presented a draft overlay for the area previously described as the CRA or Community Redevelopment Area for midtown Marco Island. On July 14, 2010, the CRA Ad-hoc Advisory Committee asked Planning Board to table the project for two years.

The new overlay subdivides midtown into eight districts that preserve distinct identities. Sub-districts are organized by characteristics including residential, industrial, recreational, shopping and marine.

Upgrades for all areas would include adhering to the Comprehensive Plan, building on natural assets and maintaining midtown as the center of commerce and civil life, Irvin said. The strategies Irvin asked planning board to consider were delineated moving forward for 1-3 years, 3-7 years and 7-plus years.

Each strategy would be tested against the plan’s two overall goals. The first keeps the area’s tropical small-town feel while maintaining its social and economic viability. The second provides better transportation with bike routes, traffic calming and pedestrian walkways for continuity of movement within the district.

Irvin linked viability to a thriving center with community activities and special events. Amenities required would include public restrooms and drinking fountains, safety and informational signage, pubic parking and crosswalks and defined routing for people and vehicles in and around activities. Irvin pointed to three alleyways in midtown as underused byways that could be woven into the city’s plan.

Transfer credits from waterfront to upland development would be considered as planning progressed, but no increase in density would be proposed under Irvin’s plan. Currently, 340 waterfront properties could transfer credits within the midtown district while still maintaining the maximum 12-units per acre for the district.

In the short term, Irvin asked planning board members to involve the Arts Advisory Committee in creating an overall midtown insignia that would identify gateways into the area and associate them with way-finding signs. Secondly, he asked for permission to begin holding meetings to engage midtown’s businesses and residents for ideas and feedback.

“First, we need to address code compliance issues on signage and hedges,” suggested Marv Needles of the planning board.

Board member Monty Lazarus asked if Irvin could hold a series of meetings prior to formal town hall meetings to educate the public about various facets of midtown development. He also asked Irvin to compile examples of other midtowns where redevelopment upgraded areas.

Public speaker Steve Stefanides asked planning board members to consider tax incentives for business owners who spent their own money cleaning up alleyways. He also asked planners to keep in mind that Marco Island is a year-round community. He suggested the city purchase a portable stage for use citywide.

Chairman Dick Shanahan said the board would consider Irvin’s plan in future meetings and asked him to provide a provisional timeline for the board’s next meeting.

The Planning Board discussed holding its next scheduled meeting for 9 a.m., March 2, in the city’s community room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.

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Comments » 7

Throat_Yogurt writes:

STOP WASTING THE CITY'S MONEY AND JUST LEAVE IT BE.

1Paradiselost writes:

Just look at the picture of those guys.

Nobody is under 70.. Half of you are most likely going senile and don't even know it.

Please just enjoy your retirement and stop spending our money!

This city is $400,000,000.00 in the hole....

Your ideas, like your age is out of date for today's financial concerns!

marco826 writes:

Bankrupt soon. Wait, now.

ajm3s writes:

"Transfer credits from waterfront to upland development would be considered as planning progressed, but no increase in density would be proposed under Irvin’s plan. Currently, 340 waterfront properties could transfer credits within the midtown district while still maintaining the maximum 12-units per acre for the district."

Based on that quote, can someone please explain why we need density transfers? And why would we need to transfer from waterfront to upland, if there is no disparity.

I understand it is the transfer of unused credits, but why would the owner of say, Winn Dixie give its unused credits (i.e. development rights), unless there is some sort of compensation. Is it for potentially reducing the assessment of its land holding?

As usual, I am confused again.

But on the other hand, I thought I knew the pros and cons of a CRA, but based on the comments at the Planning Board meeting, I guess I was misinformed, again.

If it all about selling an idea or program, then I guess I did not buy in. And it has nothing to do with the concept, but rather the experience gained by watching this city spend money foolishly. And based on this observation, why would I not think the adminsitration of a CRA would not lead to the same fate.

History matters! Stay vigilant.

ajm3s writes:

"Public speaker Steve Stefanides asked planning board members to consider tax incentives for business owners who spent their own money cleaning up alleyways."

Hey, great idea! Now, can we provide the same for single family residences (SFR) to remove shell and stone in a ROW and replace with sod as recommended under the current ROW standards in review.

So continuing on your recommendation, can the city provide a "tax incentive" for the SFR.

Or is this another example of suggesting an incentive for business to "clean up" the alleyways vs suggesting a disincentive by the city to update ROW standards for SFRs as represented by those who have shone and shell swales to be paid for by the abutting homeowner.

And to those that believe we must eliminate shell swales as currently recommended in ROW standard review, I ask: Is there any peer reviewed document that actually claims that stone and shell swales are a detriment to stormwater management. Is there is no benefit of stone and shell in stormwater management, to such an extent that it needs to be replaced with sod?

Here is the current status of Best Management Practices (BMP) for South Florida:

http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/port...

I challenge anyone to find an inkling or recommendation of stone removal! Yet there are more than a few comments of pollutants from vegetation (i.e page 8).

But shell is a not to be tolerated in a swale, and on Marco Island it is soon to be removed, if it was installed prior to cityhood. I guess it is more about quirky ordinances than current BMPs from civil engineers.

blogsmog writes:

monte lazarus, jack patterson and dick shannahan..no special interests being served here.....yikes

JohninMarco writes:

in response to blogsmog:

monte lazarus, jack patterson and dick shannahan..no special interests being served here.....yikes

I see at least 2 conflicts of interest in the room.

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