Marco Island City Council: Carriage issue doesn't get a vote; no rise in taxes, no change in utility rate setup

Marco Horse Drawn Carriages, Inc.,president Ellen McKinney and vice president Michael Riddle make their case, which was denied by Marco Island's City Council when a motion to approve failed to garner a second. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER

Marco Horse Drawn Carriages, Inc.,president Ellen McKinney and vice president Michael Riddle make their case, which was denied by Marco Island's City Council when a motion to approve failed to garner a second. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Councilor Joe Batte, right, congratulates Marco Fire Captain/EMT Chris Crossan for his work. Marco Island's City Council held a lengthy series of meetings on Monday afternoon and evening. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER

Councilor Joe Batte, right, congratulates Marco Fire Captain/EMT Chris Crossan for his work. Marco Island's City Council held a lengthy series of meetings on Monday afternoon and evening. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— There will be no horse-drawn carriage rides on Marco Island's streets, at least for the time being. The millage rate charged to island taxpayers will not rise above last year, even if voters approve an on-island emergency services clinic. And seawall repair may get more expensive.

These were some of the items that came out of the Marco Island City Council's July 16 meeting, the regular session after the joint workshop with the Planning Board, and the closed door executive sessions on legal matters. The council's meeting drew an overflow crowd to the building, with additional seats set up in the lobby for members of the public to watch the proceedings on television monitors.

To the approval of much of the audience, a motion on horse-drawn carriages failed to get a vote by council; although it had been previously approved by the Planning Board.

Company president Ellen McKinney decried the petition campaign on the Internet that, she said, falsely represented their operations, and charged them with animal cruelty.

Even with numerous conditions imposed, which the petitioners agreed to, including the stipulation that the operations could essentially be shut down at any time the city deemed necessary, the proposal by Marco Horse Drawn Carriages, Inc., went down to defeat. It died due to the lack of a second after Councilor Wayne Waldack moved for approval.

Island resident Joe Varano led the council through a recitation of his unhappiness at seawall construction work being done in the vacant lot next to his house on Menorca Court. While Varano pointedly did not name the contractor involved, Duane Thomas confirmed it was his company doing the work. The ordinance governing such activity, said City Attorney Burt Saunders, is vague, but does give guidelines for how contractors may make use of vacant lots, and stipulates that "clean concrete can be used for riprap."

"I have no problem complying with the rules," said Thomas, "I just need to know what they are."

Councilor Frank Recker, who displayed outside the meeting the gash he had gotten in his leg while inspecting the site, made a motion directing staff not to allow any more such permits until the matter was clarified.

"Yes, but what about a failed seawall?" queried Councilor Bill Trotter. Council Chairman Larry Magel mentioned they had previously gotten a figure of 20 percent for the additional cost of seawall replacement if work on adjacent lots was not permitted.

Limited to 30 days, unless it is extended, the moratorium was passed by a vote of 7-0, with Councilman Waldack weighing in over the PA system from off-island, where he is recuperating from a bicycle-vehicle collision.

The council passed on second reading an ordinance and resolution for utility rates, brushing aside several attempts by Trotter to reopen the discussion, seeking to lessen what he characterized as an unfair proportion of the cost being borne by single family homeowners, particularly those who make a point to conserve water.

Gibson agreed that many large commercial water and sewer users are getting a free ride, but in several 5-2 votes, and one 6-1, with Trotter in dissent, the council opted to keep in place the utility rate structure previously enacted.After the vote, many of the "water geeks," those who closely follow the issue and have passionate beliefs on it, kibitzed outside the council chambers, talking with Utilities Director Jeff Poteet and consultant Mike Burton. The City Council is scheduled to meet again on Aug. 20.

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Comments » 6

GFonda writes:

Well, for the vast majority of lots used to "cure" or stage panels for sea walls, there have been NO problems. Marco Island was built as a waterfront community consisting of canals and bays that are contained by reinforced cement sea walls. There are hundreds of miles of them and they are now failing after 40 + years since their installation.

This island infrastructure (unlike roads) is required to be maintained/replaced by lot owners at their expense.

It is a little disturbing when some councilors who do not have to bear this sea wall responsibility/expense because they live inland can all of a sudden stop all permitting (even if for only 30 days)because of this incident in which one councilor was injured.

What on earth were they thinking in halting the issuance of permits? Someone said at the council meeting it was like "throwing the baby out with the bath water".

marco826 writes:

Hooray....no horses!

marconan writes:

"Yes, but what about a failed seawall?" queried Councilor Bill Trotter. Council Chairman Larry Magel mentioned they had previously gotten a figure of 20 percent for the additional cost of seawall replacement if work on adjacent lots was not permitted.

Limited to 30 days, unless it is extended, the moratorium was passed by a vote of 7-0, with Councilman Waldack weighing in over the PA system from off-island, where he is recuperating from a bicycle-vehicle collision."

This reporter is not telling the whole story about the seawall moratorium.

I happend to see the video of the Council meeting. He must have dozed off when they said the moratorium will be on the use of recycled concrete instead of stone for riprap because it contains rebar & other other construction materials.

One of the seawall contractors said the use of the recycled material is not a cost savings over natural stone because it requires more labor to remove the protrubing rebar. He uses it only for the purpose of recycling. He has no problem using stone.

The way I saw it, the Council voted on a moratorium on the use of recycled concrete for riprap, NOT on permits for seawalls or the use of adjacent vacant lots for staging or manufacture of seawall panels.

RayNetherwood writes:

This Council seems to be all over the map in its decision making. The horse issue was not resolved, just not heard (and we don't need a herd). Horse drawn carriage are just a BAD idea, period.

lauralbi1 writes:

MarcoBiker: From a procedural standpoint, your comment is without basis. Just for your information, with no commentary on the issue itself, the issue was resolved by the Council. The fact that there was no second to the motion, means that the vote was 6 to 1 opposed to this idea.
Ed Issler

lauralbi1 writes:

NO RISE IN TAXES !!!! Even with a slight reduction in property value. Boy what an accomplishment for the Council.
I cannot help but wonder where are all the Blogs from those continuously berating the Council for their unwillingness to tighten the "belt".
I guess the fact that there are no Blogs here is significant in and of itself !!
Ed Issler

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