MARCO ISLAND — Despite chilly weather, the house was packed for Councilor Larry Sacher’s town hall meeting on Wednesday.
In his words, he fulfilled one of his campaign promises: to meet with the people and converse. Questions were taken randomly from the audience and answers were frank and unambiguous. The Marco Island Civic Association helped host the event.
“There are no boundaries,” Sacher told the crowd. “The reason we’re here is the City of Marco faces some very significant issues that affect all citizens.”
On most people’s minds were worries about commercial construction, especially at Rose Marina and the Marco Island Marriott. Sacher added the absence of consistency and good city management as his concerns.
Rick Melli questioned the appropriateness of boat storage on the undeveloped lot across from Rose Marina.
“It is unresolved about the storage facility on the west side of Bald Eagle,” Sacher responded. “This has not come to council.”
He passed the question to Monte Lazarus, chairman of the city’s Planning Board, for more details. The board approved four ordinance amendments to Marco Island’s Land Development Code on first reading that could open the way for conditional use requests and expansion by the marina.
At the board’s second public hearing, only one amendment was approved, raising building heights for marinas from 50 to 60 feet. Three amendments, including one that would allow boat storage on the west side of Bald Eagle Drive, were continued for further discussion.
“We have suggested a four-sided rather than a three-sided building,” Lazarus said of the boat storage.
“Are we a sleepy, small town that wants to remain that way or are we moving toward Myrtle Beach?” Kelly Linman asked.
“We don’t have a lot of consistency in the various ordinances that we have,” Sacher said. “I see Marco River Marina’s dilemma that it does not have adequate and updated facilities.”
Sacher said he is not prepared to vote one way or the other the issue.
Several residents questioned the Marriott’s future renovation.
“Marriott has submitted drawings to the building department,” Sacher said. “They are applying for some changes to the PUD, so it will go to the Planning Board twice and then to the City Council.”
Rick Medwedeff, general manager of the Marco Island Marriott, was given a chance to speak about his plans. Only five properties parallel the area where the hotel hopes to place a parking deck on the east side of Collier Boulevard. The hotel is reaching out to those property owners for input, he said.
Bill Flasche asked Sacher’s opinion of the proposed Mackle Park Community Center.
The question of a new building at Mackle Park should require a referendum, Sacher said.
“I’ve made it clear from day one that the Mackle Park facility is inadequate and in disrepair,” he said. “Our city could use a larger and more functional community center. I would vote in favor of it.”
Sacher was sensitive to overbuilding calling the south end of the island a Manhattan skyline.
“I don’t want Marco Island being called Myrtle Beach South,” he said.