Friendly takeover: New police code enforcement unit reviewed by Marco Planning Board

Bill Trotter, center, considers questions asked by Marco Island’s Planning Board Friday on code enforcement procedures. To his left is newly appointed Vice Chairman Marty Roddy. To his right is board member Charlette Roman. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Bill Trotter, center, considers questions asked by Marco Island’s Planning Board Friday on code enforcement procedures. To his left is newly appointed Vice Chairman Marty Roddy. To his right is board member Charlette Roman. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Outgoing Planning Board Chairman Jack Patterson, left, congratulates Monte Lazarus, the new board chairman and Marty Roddy, new vice chairman. The Marco Island Planning Board elected new leadership at its Friday meeting. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Outgoing Planning Board Chairman Jack Patterson, left, congratulates Monte Lazarus, the new board chairman and Marty Roddy, new vice chairman. The Marco Island Planning Board elected new leadership at its Friday meeting. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

On Friday, Marco Island Assistant Police Chief Dave Baer named this home on Gulfport Court as the biggest problem facing code enforcement. The home, partially destroyed by an explosion and fire, is a health and safety hazard that has come before the Code Enforcement Board for multiple violations. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

On Friday, Marco Island Assistant Police Chief Dave Baer named this home on Gulfport Court as the biggest problem facing code enforcement. The home, partially destroyed by an explosion and fire, is a health and safety hazard that has come before the Code Enforcement Board for multiple violations. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Marco Island Police Department’s Assistant Chief Dave Baer explains how code enforcement is being handled by police. Baer gave an overview of code enforcement processes at Friday’s Planning Board meeting. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Marco Island Police Department’s Assistant Chief Dave Baer explains how code enforcement is being handled by police. Baer gave an overview of code enforcement processes at Friday’s Planning Board meeting. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

— Marco Island’s Police Department is serious about code enforcement, Assistant Chief Dave Baer told Planning Board members Friday. It’s a 24/7 job for us, he said.

Baer spoke at the request of board members looking for reassurance that city ordinances approved by Marco Island’s City Council would be enforced. Monte Lazarus, newly appointed board chairman, also wanted to urge the city to be clear on issues when responding to resident questions or complaints.

He used as an example the legality of a political group demonstrating near the sidewalk at the Marco Island Post Office. He was curious if the group needed a city permit and called the police department.

“They answered they were on federal property,” he said.

On a second inquiry, he was told it was not federal property because the city owns the swale and leases the building. Next, he called Liz Carr, the city’s code compliance officer, to clear up the confusion about jurisdiction.

He was told the group was exercising its First Amendment rights and did not need a permit.

“Citizens could get any one of three answers,” Lazarus pointed out. “Can the city speak with a single voice?”

Baer apologized for the confusion, saying the third answer was correct.

“If they are demonstrating on the public right-of-way and not blocking traffic or the sidewalk,” he said, “they can stand out there day or night. It’s a First Amendment right.”

Charlette Roman, a board member, asked if police had adequate resources to enforce city codes.

“It depends on the level of enforcement you want,” Baer responded. “We are an exceptionally lean police department and code enforcement department.”

Baer reported that violations are decreasing and police are looking at several ways to continue improving enforcement.

“Officers are working from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday and weekend day shifts,” he said. About 80 percent of all investigations are initiated by code enforcement officers while on patrol. The rest come from complaints made by residents or non-police government entities such as the building inspection department.

Prior to police re-inheriting code enforcement, code compliance took place during business hours Monday through Friday with police responding nights and weekends if a complaint reached their office.

Although the presence of police at violators’ doors will put stronger “teeth” in enforcement, Baer assured the board voluntary compliance was still the goal.

Board member Irv Povlow asked Baer to name the biggest problem code enforcers face.

“It’s what your neighbor or the community thinks is the biggest problem,” he said, but reconsidered his answer. “Life or health safety is the biggest thing. The home with fire explosion damage (32 Gulfport Court) is the biggest thing right now.”

City Attorney Burt Saunders warned the Planning Board not to stray too far outside its jurisdiction in discussing code enforcement.

“It’s fine for the board to have a conversation on the topic of code enforcement,” he said. “It’s not okay to direct staff to look at something outside of land use ordinances. You can take no official action. You can make suggestions but cannot direct.”

The board also heard a report from Joe Irvin, zoning administrator. During 2013, the Planning and Zoning Division of the Community Affairs Department reviewed 1,259 building permits, five site development plans and 1176 land use petitions or applications.

Irvin reported he was in preliminary talks with Collier County personnel on the design and placement of signs on-property at Tigertail Beach. The board asked to be updated on a continuing basis on signage plans for the beach.

The Planning Board will meet at 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20, to revisit reducing the duration of seawall building permits from 180 to 100 days. The board also will hold a public hearing for a boat dock extension at 595 Inlet Drive. It will be the first boat extension to come before the board in several years.

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Comments » 13

26yearsonmarco writes:

This should be a code violation:

If you happened to see a U.S. flag at half mast on Monday 9th, it has nothing to do with Pearl Harbor. Obama signed an executive order dictating that all flags be at half mast for Mandela, and our Governor went along with it.

The only U.S. government building that should do that is the U.S. embassy in South Africa! Unless I missed something, Mandela was not an American citizen.

I will take note of non government businesses that do this and vote with my wallet in the future.

CopWatch writes:

Anyone know why cops are quitting en masse? Class? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Baer?????????????

MrBreeze writes:

Here we go the Code Police are ready to do whatever they are directed to do. How about just sticking to Law Enforcement as you should be. Never mind using "teeth" to harass the guy who is probally not breaking any laws.

I am all for keeping the peace and living crime free, but lets keep it there, not riding around checking if you have a permit to paint your house or dock or something s----- like that.

RayPray writes:

in response to 26yearsonmarco:

This should be a code violation:

If you happened to see a U.S. flag at half mast on Monday 9th, it has nothing to do with Pearl Harbor. Obama signed an executive order dictating that all flags be at half mast for Mandela, and our Governor went along with it.

The only U.S. government building that should do that is the U.S. embassy in South Africa! Unless I missed something, Mandela was not an American citizen.

I will take note of non government businesses that do this and vote with my wallet in the future.

"Mandela was not an American citizen."

>>> True, but, objectively, much more of a man than our great Choomgang OBAMA....

JohninMarco writes:

When the city attorney states to the planning board not to overstep,and they seem to not be listening, we have trouble brewing.

harrisbill239#279036 writes:

“We are an exceptionally lean police department and code enforcement department.” Was that meant as a joke? Especially for a 24 square mile island, of which a lot of that area is under water. We have almost enough police employees (and this does not include code enforcement) to have 2 for each square mile.

MarcoberryRFD writes:

Why doesn't Gomer (Monte) ask Barney and Andy, to get a Swat Team for Marco to handle Code Enforcement.

MrBreeze writes:

HALT!!!!! DROP THE PAINT BRUSH STEP AWAY FROM THE CAN SLOWLY GET FACE DOWN KEEP YOUR HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM.

MrBreeze writes:

I can see it now posted in the Post Office.

Known Marco Criminal, Charges: using high pressure dangerous power wash to remove mold.

Count 2: Installing new key lock door knob with no municipal permits.

Consider the suspect armed with tool set and dangerous. Do not approach as suspect may be under influence of VOC vapors or Chlorine based cleaning products.

MrBreeze writes:

Newsflash::: Code violator Arrested.

A anonymous tip led the Code Police to a local hardware, where the suspect fled down the paint isle and was cornered next to the nut and bolt rack. After a flurry where the suspect threw nuts and bolts at the Code Police lead Officer August8 charged the suspect and apprehend him.

MarcoberryRFD writes:

Gomer: "Gosh darn Andy we need that Swat Team remember when Hagan stole rusty coins from the fountain and was in possession of a Coinstar receipt for $4.26"

MrBreeze writes:

Coming to a town near you. The Code Police.

mrz333 writes:

Someone from the Eagle's posting enforcement should make regular rounds of these posts and police up the crew of repeat offenders. I'm surprised that some of these contributors even know what the internet is! Perhaps if they had to stand on soap boxes in front residents beach they too would realize how foolish they sound.

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