Seawalls and vacant lots: Marco City Council works through ordinances; asks for workshops on larger items

Councilor Larry Honig, left, Council Chairman Joe Batte and Vice Chairman Ken Honecker listen to public input Monday during Marco Islandís City Council meeting. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Councilor Larry Honig, left, Council Chairman Joe Batte and Vice Chairman Ken Honecker listen to public input Monday during Marco Islandís City Council meeting. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

During Mondayís council meeting, marine contractor Duane Thomas explains to Marco Island city councilors that costs would be increased if vacant lots were not available for seawall repair and replacement. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

During Mondayís council meeting, marine contractor Duane Thomas explains to Marco Island city councilors that costs would be increased if vacant lots were not available for seawall repair and replacement. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Tom Kirstein asks Marco Island City Council Monday to reconsider term dates for the Audit Advisory Committee to match the workload done by the group. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Tom Kirstein asks Marco Island City Council Monday to reconsider term dates for the Audit Advisory Committee to match the workload done by the group. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

— Even as councilors moved four ordinances on first or second reading and one variance resolution, bigger issues were on their minds Monday.

Marco Island's city councilors voted unanimously, 6-0, to amend terms for the Planning Board and city advisory committees including arts, audit, beach, beautification, parks and recreation, and waterways. Councilor Larry Magel was not present at the meeting.

If the ordinance passes on second reading, residents on volunteer committees will have staggered terms that mirror those of the councilors who selected them. Appointments also will be limited to two four-year terms per individual on a given committee. Terms would begin on Feb. 1.

Tom Kirstein asked council to change Audit Advisory Committee's terms to run from June 1 to May 31 to accommodate its work on the city's annual audit. The process begins after the city's fiscal year ends on Sept. 30 and work is completed in April or May when the committee presents audit findings to the council. The change will be written into the ordinance on second reading.

Council said it was pleased to receive more than 65 responses from residents interested in serving on the Planning Board and volunteer committees.

On second reading, councilors unanimously approved allowing mooring assist system boat covers as part of the city's boat dock ordinance. The city will not review technical specifications, limit color choices or require a permit to affix a mooring assist system to docks.

Council was divided 5-1 on first reading of an ordinances allowing annual use of vacant lots for seawall repair and replacement. Chairman Joe Batte felt the ordinance fell short of addressing quality of life issues for residents living next to seawall manufacture.

City staff presented a study outlining historic use of vacant lots. From 2008 to 2012, 204 vacant lots in residential areas were used for seawall staging. Of those, only eight were used more than once with 369 to 887 days elapsing between first and second use.

Currently, 1089 vacant lots are available on direct or indirect access seawalls with 4,634 adjacent residences that may require seawall repairs. The city has a total of 120 miles of seawall. In 2012, only 1.36 percent, or 1.63 miles, of seawall were permitted for replacement. For those replacements, vacant staging lots were used except for two residences where setbacks allowed the work to be done on site.

The revised ordinance would provide code compliance fines for misuse of vacant lots. Fines could be levied for debris, stockpiling and general unsightliness or using a vacant lot for staging without securing a permit.

Council also was divided 4-2 on second reading of an ordinance to eliminate police and fire services impact fees on repurposed existing commercial space. Councilors Larry Honig and Amadeo Petricca opposed the ordinance.

Honig was vocal in his dissent saying he was embarrassed to have the issue before council.

"I will vote against this because this is not an incentive," he said. "It's a reward for persons starting a business. People who stayed on Marco Island and expanded businesses on Marco Island cannot be grandfathered. There is no clear and compelling evidence this will stimulate business."

In council communication, Vice Chairman Ken Honecker asked council to begin workshops on the city's Capital Improvement Plan. Petricca suggested workshops on the General Fund and Water and Sewer Fund. Both councilors have been outspoken on tackling larger issues they see facing the city.

Councilor Larry Sacher was appointed to look into the Police and Fire Departments' pensions. He expressed concerns about underfunded liabilities, potential changes in type of plan, and state law allowing money to be allocated among the plan participants instead of being used for pension liabilities.

City Manager Jim Riviere was instructed to schedule the workshops. The next scheduled council meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 22, in council chambers of the community room.

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Comments » 13

MarcoCitizen writes:

What are mooring assist system boat covers?

OldMarcoMan writes:

#1. I like Battes Glasses
#2. Why doesn't this 'New' Council solve the Tax and Spend problems they got hired to do before the deals with trivia!

More Smoke and Mirrors , new names same Clown Car

MrBreeze writes:

Here we go workshops and meetings. Why can't this process be so simple. Topics are brought forward and the Council makes a decision. What are they 12 and have to get permission from the teacher to make decisions? Get real, take action. Make decisions that are fair and equitable for the Citizens and taxpayers of Marco Island. Clouding the issues with "Boards and Committees" just slows and confuses the whole process.

lauralbi1 writes:

Old Marco Man: You obviously have no idea about what it takes to run a City. There are areas where we could eliminate some spending, but when you compare our City Budget to other cities with the same size and infrastructure, we are not out of line.

If you have specific suggestions, you are aklways encouraged to present them or send them to City Council for consideration. But remember, there are 18,000 full time residents of which 13000 are registered voters and everyone has a say in how the Island is run. The Council has 7 (seven) members who represent all of us. And one of the three rfecent Council victors was victorious by 185 votes or 93 residents. The Island is not run for your apporval or liking, but rather for all of us.
I have sent a money saving suggestion to Council. I suggest that we do not need a Police Chief and a Fire Chief. An island our size could operate with a Director of Public Safety who would oversee both the Police and Fire. Saves a salary and a pension.
Ed Issler

ajm3s writes:

in response to lauralbi1:

Old Marco Man: You obviously have no idea about what it takes to run a City. There are areas where we could eliminate some spending, but when you compare our City Budget to other cities with the same size and infrastructure, we are not out of line.

If you have specific suggestions, you are aklways encouraged to present them or send them to City Council for consideration. But remember, there are 18,000 full time residents of which 13000 are registered voters and everyone has a say in how the Island is run. The Council has 7 (seven) members who represent all of us. And one of the three rfecent Council victors was victorious by 185 votes or 93 residents. The Island is not run for your apporval or liking, but rather for all of us.
I have sent a money saving suggestion to Council. I suggest that we do not need a Police Chief and a Fire Chief. An island our size could operate with a Director of Public Safety who would oversee both the Police and Fire. Saves a salary and a pension.
Ed Issler

Your suggestion would revert to what was originally in place, but due to kingdom building, it was agreed that they have two chiefs.

Imagine, two chiefs. And take a look at the last council meeting where the council agreed they were in the water rescue business but decided that the Fire Chief case for a 400K rescue boat was appropriate. However, pay attention to the discussion regarding the role of the police in rescue operations and the need for a watercraft (reference webcast provided by the city). Or you can read the last Eagle article claiming the new role of the fire boat thereby allowing incumbent council members to change their past view, while new council members bought into Mr. Murphy's thesis that the fire department is the only water rescue option for the city of Marco Island.

"The primary purpose of the proposed boat, he stressed again and again, is rescue, not firefighting. But even for firefighting, the new boat's Diesel engines will power pumps, providing yet another advantage over the Donzi.

http://www.marconews.com/news/2012/no...

And then I give you the latest rescue on the water:

http://www.nbc-2.com/story/20521627/f...

Not a Marco Island fireman or policeman required from the city of Marco Island.

Pay attention folks, the rise of safety at all costs is upon us!!!!!!!!!! Even with the new council in place all under the heading: City of Marco Island is in the water rescue business.

Really!

MrBreeze writes:

AJM3 The citizens of Marco Island missed out by you not running for a City Council seat.

Old Marco Man is 100% correct but due to the folks on this island that can be convinced by smoke and mirrors the majority is leaning to stupidity. I think that this is going to be the new normal for the island. Stupidity.

ajm3s writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

AJM3 The citizens of Marco Island missed out by you not running for a City Council seat.

Old Marco Man is 100% correct but due to the folks on this island that can be convinced by smoke and mirrors the majority is leaning to stupidity. I think that this is going to be the new normal for the island. Stupidity.

Bear in mind, I grew up in a state where the ocean is essentially your back door and interestingly, in a community like Newport RI, that caters to tourists as well as boaters from all over the world, here is their inventory of rescue watercraft.

http://www.cityofnewport.com/departme...

And note, some monies are donated by business and private entities, but I do not see a 400k watercraft nor a dismissal of the Coast Guard as a rescue operation relegated to homeland security, as I heard in testimony provided by Marco Island's "professional" safety management.

Yes, I am genuinely upset, because I believe water safety includes the efforts of community based organizations, like Power Squadron, Coast Guard auxiliaries, etc.

But then again, only on Marco Island is money spent ($10MM) for "safety" at the exclusion of other effective organizations at a greatly reduced cost.

Sorry, council, I am deeply disappointed if you cannot recognize a "professional" safety management that can convince the council and community into believing the only consideration of water rescue operations revolved about the savings of replacing a Donzi with a specialized rescue boat.

I do not wish to go into the detail as to the flaw in his presentation, but it was a gem of a sales pitch.

In my world, water rescue operations should be reviewed under a much WIDER perspective, but again, the council was remiss by only considering a presentation by a fire chief whose perspective is narrow and based on highly specialized and expensive equipment.

As for myself, first responders are always other watercraft in the area, so I will always welcome a boater with safety training to provide aid. Because time is of the essence, it always is, that is why Mr. Murphy is resurrecting station 51. So I guess we can await the proposal for a fire station on the water to house watercraft and another platoon.

ajm3s writes:

in response to GorchFock:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Agreed! It is amazing how much is spent on "safety" operations. And what is truly amazing, I believe the monies spent is a classic example of diminishing returns at an exponential rate.

MrBreeze writes:

AJM3 I read the link you provided and if you check out the lists of equipment at each firehouse the most watercraft they have are two Jet ski's and inflatable boats or rafts. Sounds like they know what equipment is truly needed.

The Marco Fireboat is a joke from the very beginning. The people in charge get sold a bill of goods by equipment salespeople. Then this all looks great then they purchase and burden the taxpayer.

A few years back in my hometown the building boom was on. We went from two firestations to four. Three new stations and equipment and staff full time. New EMS advanced life support units, new fire trucks including a aerial ladder truck costing 300,000. Two new advanced rescue trucks. New command vehicles. A Mobile Command Center. State of the art suits,air support,infared heat detection devices,you name they bought it. State of the art communication system. Now this City has a 30 million dollar deficet. It is easy to spend money, it is harder to pay it back.

ajm3s writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

AJM3 I read the link you provided and if you check out the lists of equipment at each firehouse the most watercraft they have are two Jet ski's and inflatable boats or rafts. Sounds like they know what equipment is truly needed.

The Marco Fireboat is a joke from the very beginning. The people in charge get sold a bill of goods by equipment salespeople. Then this all looks great then they purchase and burden the taxpayer.

A few years back in my hometown the building boom was on. We went from two firestations to four. Three new stations and equipment and staff full time. New EMS advanced life support units, new fire trucks including a aerial ladder truck costing 300,000. Two new advanced rescue trucks. New command vehicles. A Mobile Command Center. State of the art suits,air support,infared heat detection devices,you name they bought it. State of the art communication system. Now this City has a 30 million dollar deficet. It is easy to spend money, it is harder to pay it back.

You are absolutely on target.

What really scares me about Marco Island, the current council seems enamored with Mr. Murphy. I thought some on council would see past the limited scope or framework of the argument provided by the city; but again I was dismayed that the new council did not have a wider perspective of rescue operations on the water, which include a review of organizations with assets, including those that spend much more time on the water by directive and design.

And most incredible was Mr. Murphy's statement actually diminishing the watercraft's role in fire fighting and highlighting its capability in rescue for use of such an elaborate watercraft.

Again, unbelievable.

From my perspective, Mr. Honecker, Mr. Sacher Mr. Petricca and Mr. Honig have not embraced spending nor critical thinking as I had expected. I could not believe they limited the discussion of water rescue operations to a cost analysis of a Donzi vs a detailed spec at a cost of 400K. I do not believe Naples has a spec as costly as what was issued by this city. All while a rescue boat is provided by the county in dock at Isles of Capri.

Again, simply in awe!!!!!

Please, help stop this madness from proliferating!!!!!!!!!!! Have we not learned from the past!!!!!

And to those that argue that I am too negative, I simply ask, we deserve critical review of issues from both elected officials as well as city directors/chiefs. Otherwise, we will simply walk a path of spending based on arguments provided by the city only, resulting in duplication of services to protect self promoting public kingdoms especially those we entrust with safety. That is why I place tremendous responsibility on council members to probe, to be representatives of residents, NOT simply base decisions on city presentations.

Oh God, what can I expect with regard to future issues: density transfer, CRA, etc. I guess, it will be depend on how the argument is framed.

To return to the topic of this article, thank God, this is NOT the case with Mr. Milk and his staff's presentation to council with regard to seawall staging regulations.

Yes sometimes, the city directors can be fair and balanced, even while a council chair insists the small number of complaints as provided by the city is dismissed as not representative.

Is it too much to ask council to be fair and balanced while probing an argument or position irregardless of what business the city claims is their responsibility?

I hope council does not make the same assessment and require the city be in the seawall construction business.

I believe Mr. Milk has a clue while the council probes how many ways can we regulate seawall staging. After all, this issue has been reviewed ad nauseum. Just asked those who have witnessed all the discussions since Marco Island's infancy as a planned community.

MrBreeze writes:

AJM You are right. Like you, I am very disappointed with the new Council. What happened to the platform that they ran on? Watch spending, cut waste, listen to the people?????

ajm3s writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

AJM You are right. Like you, I am very disappointed with the new Council. What happened to the platform that they ran on? Watch spending, cut waste, listen to the people?????

I guess we need to start somewhere, so as of today we are a committee of two.

RayPray writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

AJM You are right. Like you, I am very disappointed with the new Council. What happened to the platform that they ran on? Watch spending, cut waste, listen to the people?????

Even faster than the speed of light is government co-optation....

Sure hope Chief Murphy gives these fresh solons all rides on the new rescue yacht....

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