Marco Island homeowners could face new swale landscaping requirements

These paver driveways appear to conform to draft regulations for sidewalk compatibility as discussed at Friday's Planning Board meeting. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

These paver driveways appear to conform to draft regulations for sidewalk compatibility as discussed at Friday's Planning Board meeting. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

If city councilors approve a new right-of-way handbook discussed at Friday's Planning Board meeting, rock swales like these on Sixth Avenue will have to be replaced with organic materials at homeowners' expense. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

If city councilors approve a new right-of-way handbook discussed at Friday's Planning Board meeting, rock swales like these on Sixth Avenue will have to be replaced with organic materials at homeowners' expense. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

— Taking a stroll on Marco Island could be getting easier, but homowners may be asked to foot the bill. As government groups move closer to developing a right-of-way handbook, they will be looking at renovating sidewalks and standardizing width in conjunction with developing protocols for swale composition.

Tim Pinter, public works director, walked members of Marco Island’s Planning Board through revisions to the draft handbook on Friday. Using input from the Beautification Advisory Committee, Bike Path Volunteer Committee and fire department, city staff will ask city councilors to require that all swales composed of inorganic materials conform to new landscape standards.

The change comes as the city moves toward improving water quality in waterways around the island. Removing loose materials also will reduce the amount of debris carried off by rainwater or irrigation runoff. Loose material, such as stone, gravel, shell and some varieties of mulch, can clog or damage drainage systems, Pinter said.

Using organic materials improves water quality by allowing collected water to percolate through nature’s filters. Those filters remove pollutants and excess nutrients while preventing erosion. Because water is absorbed by organic materials, less water is released during flooding events. That means less excess materials are carried away to plug storm filters and clog grates or outfalls associated with storm water containment drains.

In his written report to the Planning Board, Pinter estimated that 600 lots had non-conforming swales. When he addressed the board, he lowered that estimate to 300-400 lots noting they were located all around the island. In a report given to the Beautification Advisory Committee on Wednesday, Pinter estimated the number at around 200 out of 6,000 lots.

Included in the draft handbook are appropriate groundcovers suggested by the beautification committee, Pinter said. The committee’s recommendations were sod, sunshine mimosa and perennial peanut.

If the handbook is approved by city council, landowners adjacent to public swales will have one year from its adoption to remove inorganic materials and install conforming landscaping. It will be the landowner’s responsibility to water the new materials until established and maintain the swale to handbook standards.

Pinter estimated the cost per adjacent right-of-way to a single family lot owner would be approximately $1,500 to $1,800. That amount was based on removing existing inorganic materials and any contaminated soil and restoring the right-of-way with accepted plantings.

In addition, the city will be looking to standardize all sidewalks to a minimum of 6 feet wide, although some may be adjusted to 5 feet, Pinter said. Shared use sidewalks – those open to walkers, runners, joggers and bicyclists – will be 8 feet wide except in the mid-town area where they will be 10 feet wide. Pinter said with the new swale materials, the wider sidewalks would meet fire department requirements.

Many of the original 4-foot sidewalks are cracked, uneven and dangerous, Pinter said. Homeowners should repair and maintain them if safety issues exist. In addition, sidewalks must meet ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, standards.

Widening the sidewalks will bring the city into the 21st Century, Pinter said.

Homes with brick pavers on driveways that cross sidewalks will be exempt provided the pavers match the sidewalk’s 2-percent slope.

Public speaker Bruce Allen of Lido Court asked the Planning Board to consider the amount of usage sidewalks get before expanding them.

“No one ever uses the sidewalk on our street and the homes are beautifully landscaped,” he explained.

The Planning Board will review the handbook’s revisions and supply hardcopy comments before further presentations. The Planning Board’s next scheduled meeting will be held at 9 a.m., Feb. 3, in the community room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.

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Comments » 29

deltarome writes:

This should increase potable water sales. While the inorganic swale matter doesn't filter out impurities, having grass or living plants in the swale means that one must use chemicals to feed, weed and kill pests. Where will all these added chemicals go when it rains? Into the sewer of course, dah.

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

What will these guys come up with next? Who ever voted for city hood has to realize what a colossal mistake they made by now?

marco97 writes:

The City paves all of Collier Blvd. and removes the swales, now all the rain water flows from Collier right into the canals. This City is so screwed up.

Throat_Yogurt writes:

We pay the "city counsel" with our tax dollars so they can come up with new laws/codes to charge us even more money...lost-lose situation

LelyMom20 writes:

Are you serious? What else are you going to charge us? Enough is enough!!!!! We the working people of the island absolutely cannot and will not foot the bill for something absolutely a waste of money. With this state of the economy, most people are having a tough time just keeping up with mortgage payments. Our job is not to support who you have a business agreement with!!!!! We are fuming mad, and we are not going to let this one rest. It is too bad the meeting is while we are at work supporting our families. We definitely DID NOT vote to make Marco Island a city btw.

Seawaller writes:

STRP all over again

happy6 writes:

what a bunch of fools...drive around the island...see how many people are walking in the street...bikes in the street riding next to the 8 ft shared paths...what a complete waste of time and money.

dc5799 writes:

They have to find the money somehow to pay for that $100,000 that the guy from Naples has filed suit against M.I.

1Paradiselost writes:

You have got to be joking, right?

dcrain writes:

6 foot wide sidewalks throughout the whole city of Marco? This is one of the dumbest ideas these bozo's have come up with yet. If they are truly concerned over what is going into the storm sewers, maybe they should realize by doing this folly, they will be increasing the amount of impermeable surfaces another 50% in most instances. They love to spend other people's money. On our street for example, to widen the sidewalk another two feet will affect our landscaping, the irrigation system, etc. and probalby result in our having to install a retaining wall the length of our property. Seriously, if Mr. Pinter has nothing better to do with his time while we are paying his salary, perhaps his position should be removed permanently.

ed34145 writes:

First they take away greenery by putting in bike lanes and then they want to take away even more by widening sidewalks. I believe in wide, shared use sidewalks but not after they screwed things up by putting in bike lanes which have already reduced the swales.Make up your minds...bike lanes or shared use, but not both.

marco826 writes:

Council out of control...costs to live here are too high already. Marco is chasing homeowners away...

JohninMarco writes:

Mr Pinter is not correct. New sidewalks must conform to the Amercians with Disabilities Act. Not existing. Again a Marco official re-invents the laws.

ajm3s writes:

Caution! Caution! Caution! The city is about to embark on a new set of "standards" for ROW, which will may impact every homeowner and condo owner.

The stage is being set for another city sponsored foray for reducing choice and essentially control "aesthetics" under the auspices of safety and environmental guidelines.

Can we all agree that gravel//shell swales are ugly? No? Yes? But if it is an envoronmenatal and safety issue then obviously we must abolish. Yes!

So I will go on record to again, ask how does gravel/shell create an environmental burden be it on a driveway or a ROW swale? I will simply shrug my shoulders and ask, is this about aesthetics because the justification based on environmental or safety is skimpy at best. But then again, will we require a demonstration of a gurney traversing a ROW. A life is at stake! Oh God!

Bear in mind we have bicycle paths that in my opinion are dangerously narrow yet meet safety standards, but pedestrian sidewalks need to be widened to 5-6 ft vs current 3-4ft standards. Why? Because bike paths are paid through ad valorem taxes while sidewalks and ROW changes will be paid by the property owner?

Pay attention!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!The city is coming to your front door with a new set of regulations and no grandfather clause will protect you! Pass it on to your grandchildren to remind them how grampa was told by the city to accept "progress" as defined by city management.

There are standards, but on Marco Island some standards need more to be better while some stuff is not to be tolerated, and that may include shells, now in a ROW.

What is the mission statement of the Planning Board: urbanization or maintain small tropical island atmosphere. I do understand Marco Island is not a Sannibel Island, but which island do you think more closely conforms to its natural environment? And if you talk to folks responsible for safety on Sannibel Island they sound amazingly just like our fire and safety officials, where both claim they have the best. Yet, both islands look completely different - I believe one island is not that environmentally friendly. But hey you do need weed killer to maintain a gravel swale devoid of any living matter.

What is one to do? Require all swales have a certain makeup? And limit choices, by outlawing certain natural material?

So I ask can the city at least be honest when it claims to make recommendations/changes based on environmental and/or safety standards?

marco97 writes:

Looks like Pinter learned well from Rony Joel, now that he has his job he wants to keep unnecessary construction going. I think he should Ronny in retirement.

NobodysFool57 writes:

I hardly know where to begin. "The change comes as the City moves toward improving water quality in the waterways around the island." (wan't that the line they used to sell the STRP?) "...the City will be looking to standardize all sidewalks to a minimum of 6 feet wide". 5 paragraphs above, the article states "Using organic materials improves water quality by allowing collected water to percolate through nature's filters." (Despite its chemical composition, concrete is not an organic material, and adding 50% more of it to our sidewalks is not going to improve water quality.) If you've had the displeasure of driving the 1100 block of Collier Blvd. in the last couple days, one side is shut down by QE, IN SEASON! Note to the City: Rony Joel is gone, we don't need QE's endless projects driving anyone else away. If Tim Pinter can't get rid of QE, get rid of Tim Pinter!

GorgonZola writes:

Wait a minute: didn't all that lovely mulch from the medians clog the sewers during the last heavy rainfall? We could not believe our eyes watching it all be replaced. Hey fellas -- there's a perfectly lovely example of flourishing waterless planting right in front of city hall - what more do you need??
We think natural rocks are pretty organic!

marco826 writes:

I Saw a Marco Construction crew on Collier yesterday and one of the flag girls was no way 18 years old. no way. Now, either it was bring your daughter to work day or something else is afoot...nepotism possibly? Dozen of workers doing little work, most standing around..typical road crew and we wonder why the country is broke.

Seawaller writes:

STRP all over again - SWALE TREATMENT REPLACEMENT PROGRAM. While I don't have a dog in this hunt (my swale is grass), I am tired of a small group of people telling everyone else what they need to spend their money on to further their own "vision" of what this Island should be. Mackle Park is still in the budget out to 2016 to the tune of $5,625,000.00. Also out to 2016 is $2,500,000.00 to develop a special event area. $2,500,000.00 to put up a band shell. Another $1,000,000.00 to further develop Veterans Park. $700,000.00 more into bike paths. $300,000.00 to renovate Leigh Plummer Park. The list goes on and on ad infinitum.

Do we all really need all this stuff? Who makes this stuff up? Whoever it is, they need a reality check. Then they need to go far away.

blogsmog writes:

in response to Seawaller:

STRP all over again - SWALE TREATMENT REPLACEMENT PROGRAM. While I don't have a dog in this hunt (my swale is grass), I am tired of a small group of people telling everyone else what they need to spend their money on to further their own "vision" of what this Island should be. Mackle Park is still in the budget out to 2016 to the tune of $5,625,000.00. Also out to 2016 is $2,500,000.00 to develop a special event area. $2,500,000.00 to put up a band shell. Another $1,000,000.00 to further develop Veterans Park. $700,000.00 more into bike paths. $300,000.00 to renovate Leigh Plummer Park. The list goes on and on ad infinitum.

Do we all really need all this stuff? Who makes this stuff up? Whoever it is, they need a reality check. Then they need to go far away.

Absolute bullseye with this post!

waterday writes:

Marco Island voted against City Hood so many times, NOONE wanted it, and they snuck it in the back door.. only a few fools voted for City, guess they had unlimited money to spend on City back then. The good old days were before City started all of these unnecessary expenses on Resident's backs

mahiman writes:

Do they think we're all millionaires living here?

Ykpk writes:

I strongly suggest that Pinter be removed from his position for demonstrated incompetence!

dc5799 writes:

I remember years back when Moss was in charge he purchased a 4 wheel vehicle, created a position and had an employee drive around the city sidewalks and spray paint any crack's or inperfection's with red paint.
The city was supposed to repair the sidewalks. Pinter want's us to repair them? Anyone remember this project that fell through the crack's? Also what happened to the 4 wheel vehicle?

JohninMarco writes:

in response to dc5799:

I remember years back when Moss was in charge he purchased a 4 wheel vehicle, created a position and had an employee drive around the city sidewalks and spray paint any crack's or inperfection's with red paint.
The city was supposed to repair the sidewalks. Pinter want's us to repair them? Anyone remember this project that fell through the crack's? Also what happened to the 4 wheel vehicle?

If you remember the city realized that it was cheaper to put the cost on the homeowners. They then passed a law assigning owership of the walks to the residences. That way the residents were liable for any injuries occurring on their walkways. Thank Glenn Tucker.

blogsmog writes:

We all need to due our homework for next election. This city govt takes its lead from some very influential entities on this island, most of which want: #1.POWER #2.LESS power for the Marco homeowner and taxpayer. #3.The Marco taxpayer and homeowner to carry the financial burden of their dream on making Marco "West Miami".
So if you want another Gibson or Waldack elected, just keep the course, if you want to take your city back..DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

BeenThereHereNow writes:

in response to mahiman:

Do they think we're all millionaires living here?

A good majority of us are.

ajm3s writes:

in response to blogsmog:

We all need to due our homework for next election. This city govt takes its lead from some very influential entities on this island, most of which want: #1.POWER #2.LESS power for the Marco homeowner and taxpayer. #3.The Marco taxpayer and homeowner to carry the financial burden of their dream on making Marco "West Miami".
So if you want another Gibson or Waldack elected, just keep the course, if you want to take your city back..DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Go to the head of the class!

Time to pay attention, it may cost you a visit from a city employee you never thought would come to your door. And before you can understand how this came to be, you are in front of council that then makes claim that you should have made your comments public. But then again, how many council meeting have we heard that 1200 petitions are just a minority, 100 folks crammed into a Community Room is just a hand full and does not represent the island.

Well, if you do not want to be informed, then answer the door when the city arrives to politely inform you your sidewalk and swale need to be "improved" and you need to shell out your dollars because the city owned land is in front of your home.

Quite a welcoming committee!

kosherdeli writes:

It’s about time that someone from City Staff brought attention to the Laws of the ADA, or Americans Disabilities Act, standards. Thank you Mr. Pinter, I have personally tried many for years, I have even gone the as far too invite City Council Staff to spend a few hours Wheeling Around The Island In My World, in Wheelchairs I would provide at no cost, I’ve never had any takers! Mr. Pinter we’ve had numerous conversations during the Sewer Project & Repaving of Whiteheart Ct at 1063, specifically when it came to my Accessibility going in and out of my driveway in my Wheelchair, due to the fact that the New Asphalt was going to be approximately an inch or so higher. I applaud the fact that you were interested enough to personally see that this problem was not overlooked and taken care properly.

Mr. Pinter talks about looking into Standardizing & Widening the Islands Sidewalks and how it would bring the City into the 21st Century, meet ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, Standards, Sounds Great!!! I ask why bother wasting time or money when it will benefit absolutely No One who is covered under the ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, because as I’m sure you see ever day how a large majority of Islanders Continuously Break the Law by Parking Across the Sidewalk at the End of Driveways? After living here 20yrs I can tell you theses people are the same folks who think the Striped Area Next to the Handicap Parking Spaces is a Shopping Cart Return!!!

Therefore unless the City plans to Seriously Enforce the Parking Laws the project would no doubt be waste money. However if the City was to directed Police Chief Don Hunter to have his Officers Increase & Enforce the Parking Laws At All Times and Not Back Down like they did last time when confronted by some ignorant, inconsiderate, angry residents, the revenue from theses Parking Tickets could be designated to help fund such a Wonderful Project!!!

In response to what Mr. Bruce Allen’s of Lido Court’s said “No one ever uses the sidewalk on our street” I would like to enlighten and educate him about a Florida Law, regarding Pedestrian’s Traveling Along a Street or Highway!!!
Florida Status Laws for Pedestrians and Drivers: [§316.130(3)].
PEDESTRIAN TRAVELING ALONG A STREET OR HIGHWAY WHERE SIDEWALKS ARE PROVIDED, NO PEDESTRIAN SHALL UNLESS REQUIRED BY OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES, WALK ALONG AND UPON THE PORTION OF A ROADWAY PAVED FOR VEHICULAR TRAFFIC!!!

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