MARCO ISLAND — Marco Island's newly seated Planning Board learned Friday that one decision meant to do something right for the island may have resulted in unintended consequences.
A parking ban imposed last summer on seven streets leaves no place to park for guests visiting single family residences. The ban includes streets near the south beach entrance and the public access walkway beside Marriott's Crystal Shores.
"The parking restrictions are not a satisfactory answer," said Larry Sacher, Marco Island City Councilor, speaking at the board meeting. "The solution put in place is not a solution."
Frank Mulligan, new to the board, raised the issue when another new member, former City Councilor Bill Trotter, asked for discussion on future agenda items. Returning board member Monte Lazarus was quick to agree that the ban needed revisiting.
"People living in those areas like to have parties and they are handcuffed as a result of that ruling," he said. "There needs to be an exception. We shouldn't regulate whether or not a resident can have a party."
The city established the ban after residents on Seagrape Drive, Swallow Avenue and areas adjacent to south beach complained parking was becoming a problem. Residents provided photographs showing rows of cars parked front-in on city right-of-ways, or swales, adjacent to sidewalks.
Prior to complaints, the city did not ban swale parking. However, in 2012 when it became known through the Internet that free parking was available in the area, beachgoers arrived in droves. At times more than 50 cars lined side streets.
Residents reported near traffic catastrophes with children entering the street between parked cars. Condominium residents could not check for clearance to pull out of driveways due to blocked vision. Trash and property damage became a problem, and residents reported losing real estate sales.
An ordinance approved by city council established no parking zones within 500 feet of beach access points. Council assigned a fine of $95 per violation.
"I would hate to see us go through the entire process again," said Jack Patterson who was chosen Friday to be chairman of the Planning Board. "I think common sense should prevail with homeowners allowed to contact police when they need to park on the swale."
Board members felt the parking ban needed additional discussion and asked for a workshop to reopen the issue.
In other business, the board asked Joe Irvin, city zoning administrator, the status of a proposed community redevelopment area and CRA funding for mid-town.
Irvin said the city had not moved forward with CRA boundaries, but instead was looking at a mid-town plan for future use of the area. Irvin was asked to describe the difference.
"A mid-town plan is more overreaching and broader than a CRA, including transportation, public space, public safety, and community character," he said. The CRA, he explained, is a funding mechanism for development.
The board heard one petition for vacation of a right-of-way owned by the city. Jay Houghtaling, better know as musician J Robert, asked the city to vacate a 20-feet by 60-feet area of land adjacent to his property. In return, Houghtaling agreed to give a 25-foot wide easement from his western property line to allow the city to rework a drainage area.
His petition was approved.
The Planning Board's next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Friday, March 1, in the Community Meeting Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive. A workshop date to discuss swales parking was not set at the meeting.