I watched today as the city discussed the establishment of permanent industrial sites in single family residential areas. The city is reviewing the present policy allowing sea wall contractors to use vacant lots as a permanent industrial staging area for the construction of concrete sea walls. Presently, sea wall contractors can use these vacant lots for four months out of every 16 months, and this process can be repeated forever. For all practical purposes a di-facto re-zoning from residential to industrial while the lot is empty. I heard firsthand how these lots are used to build concrete panels, to store them along with trucks and equipment for long periods of time and then to anchor huge, rusty cranes adjacent to the vacant lots for additional months. I heard firsthand how the dust, dirt and noise associated with this industrial work has destroyed the personal enjoyment of property by homeowners, destroyed their views and hurt their property values. Any vacant lot next to your home, in front of your home or across the canal can become at any time a permanent industrial factory under the present city ordinance.
This allowance of a permanent industrial site in a residentially zoned area is something none of us ever expected when we built our homes on Marco Island. Somebody testified today in favor of keeping the ordinance by giving the example that if you move next to a chicken farm; do not complain later of the smell from the chickens because the factory was already there. Nice example, but not applicable to our situation. Most of us did not build a home next to an industrial site. It is something no nearby community would even think of allowing. In addition, I heard today that this deep intrusion into single family property and zoning rights was done without an independent, professional review. Also, supposed sea wall cost replacement savings were not studied, nor was a detailed review of alternatives used by other communities or technically available solutions were done. In my opinion, when a government allows such an intrusion into one’s property and zoning rights, they must assure, that the action is fully justified and that there are no less intrusive alternatives. Again from what I heard today, it does not appear that this was done.
With some 2,000 vacant lots on Marco Island, this could mean that some 4,000-5,000 single family homes could feel the impact of this permanent industrial blight right next door to them. It is, in effect, a sleeping giant, a menace waiting to happen
Finally, I hope City Council will be taking a look at this matter in the very near future. I suggest all vulnerable single family homeowners familiarize themselves with what may happen and notify City Council of their feelings on this critical matter. Call your City Councilman at 389-5000 and let them know how you feel, they need to hear from you. Also contact those running for City Council and find out where they stand on this important issue.