While I would have loved to take my visiting grandchildren to the putt-putt on Marco Island this week, that is really beside the point.
The issue is not whether we want a miniature golf course, as the majority seem to agree we do. The issue is that the Marco Island Civic Association is responsible for enforcing the deed restrictions placed on each property. It is one of the reasons we chose to move to Marco rather than Naples – I want to know that my property values are protected and that the island is preserved the way it was designed and deeded by the Deltona Corporation when they developed the island.
Every contractor knows they need approval from MICA before building on a property. The City Council knows it. Yet they chose to ignore that fact and issued a permit to build on a property with full knowledge that MICA had not approved the usage according to the deed restrictions.
One of the reasons MICA exists is to prevent the local politics of the island from changing the character of the island based on their personal preferences whenever someone asks for a permit to build something. If you live next to a vacant lot, it is one of the reasons, a 7-Eleven (as an example) will not be built next door to you.
It has been presented in the letters to the editor as though the whole issue is the desire for a putt-putt course, and that MICA is 40 years old, and that is supposed to mean it is no longer relevant.
It has also been represented by those who have written so far, as though MICA waited until the project was completed before suing the owners. That is not true. Not only did MICA start contacting the owner and builder as early as December, but the owner is a prior MICA board member and was also the attorney for MICA at one time. He knew what the law was and simply thumbed his nose at it and totally ignored MICA’s letters, knowing that, typically on Marco Island, once you build something, whether permitted or not, (the infamous Star Bar) or approved by MICA, it will stay there.
If ignorance of the law is considered no excuse legally, I fail to see why “knowledge” of the law, including the knowledge of the deed restrictions before even purchasing a property, should be allowed to be considered a valid excuse.
Apparently the court agreed. If the owners of the putt-putt course wanted they could have purchased a property that was deeded for such a purpose and gotten the proper approvals from MICA as 99.99 percent of all construction projects on Marco already do. I personally believe that the owner of the property ultimately is responsible for ignoring MICA’s letters as well as the actual deed restrictions.