Monday night's Marco Island City Council meeting clocked in at just over two hours, which is about half the norm. Maybe the new year breathed new life into the councilors, or maybe it was the fact that the College Football National Championship game was on; either way, the councilors were highly productive, passing five ordinances, three resolutions and also discussing several items of high importance within that short time frame.
Veterans Community Park
Council passed two ordinances directly related to Veterans Community Park and another ordinance spurred by it.
The first two ordinances changed the zoning of the park from a Planned Unit Development (PUD) to a park. There was no discussion about the ordinances, and they both passed 6-0 with councilor Larry Honig absent.
The third ordinance repealed the transfer of density rights, and passed 4-2 with councilors Bob Brown and Joe Batte dissenting.
Brown, who has been vocal about his opposition to the repeal in the past, once again shared his concerns.
"I think we're throwing the baby out with the bath water," he said. "This is wrong to eliminate all density transfer rights and I will not support it. I really think we're being short sighted by doing this."
Councilor Batte agreed, and made a motion to continue the discussion in order to allow new City Manager Lee Niblock to weigh in on the issue. His motion failed 2-4.
Councilor Victor Rios said repealing the transfer of density rights is the right move, and the only way to preserve the small town atmosphere of the island.
"I think (in) the last election we very clearly got a message from our citizens that this business of using density credits to make the city grow and eventually look like Fort Lauderdale is unacceptable," he said. "How much more growth do we want?"
Alley and swale parking
Council unanimously passed two resolutions extending the temporary parking moratorium for alleys and swales adjacent to commercial districts.
Marco Island Police Department (MIPD) Chief Al Schettino and Marco Island Fire-Rescue (MIFR) Chief Mike Murphy said they have some concerns about people parking their cars in the actual alleyways rather than the swales beside them, which would prevent firetrucks or other large vehicles from accessing the roadway.
"We have to make sure that everybody understands that when you say 'parking in the alleyway,' that it's the swale alongside the alleyway and the vehicle has to be completely off the pavement allowing access for the roadway," Schettino said.
The councilors went back and forth about how to change the ordinance to address the chiefs' concerns; however, City Council Chair Jared Grifoni recommended leaving it as is, noting that the moratorium has already been in effect for a year and there hasn't been an issue with cars blocking the roadways.
"Honestly I think we're arguing about a problem that doesn't exist," he said. "I think it speaks to the goodness of our citizens that they haven't all started parking in the middle of the roads and blocking every single thing up and down the alley."
Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity
Grifoni announced that on Monday morning, Fla. Rep. Bob Rommel filed Marco Island's local bill that would allow municipalities to grant their own Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity (COPCN.)
The two other members of Collier County's state legislative delegation – Sen. Kathleen Passidomo and Rep. Bryon Donalds – agreed to support the local bill, but with a few stipulations.
First, there must be a referendum about the COPCN on the August 2018 primary election ballot. Second, council had file a COPCN application with the county before the start of the legislative session. Council submitted the application in late December after hosting a special-called meeting to discuss it.
"I think it really highlights how important it was to have that workshop when we did because it took a significant amount of time to get through bill writing and to actually get filed to where we are today," Grifoni said.
In other business
Council issued two proclamations: one commending Tommie Barfield Elementary for its Veterans Day celebration and another commending the United States Coast Guard Auxillary Flotilla 95 on its 50th anniversary.
The councilors also heard from Randal Perkins, chairman of AshBritt Environmental, the company in charge of Hurricane Irma debris removal.
"The city put some pretty hard deadlines on getting the debris and city cleaned up and I'm proud to say that we'll meet those deadlines, give or take," he said. "Collier County ... was the single largest cleanup in the state by volume; bigger than Monroe County, bigger than Orange County (and) bigger than Brevard County ... probably by over a million yards."
He then thanked the city staff for its support, residents for their patience and the council for "holding our feet to the fire."
Council also passed a resolution approving the repair and landscape replacement in medians on Collier Boulevard for damage caused by Hurricane Irma not to exceed the amount of $158,447.25, and a resolution approving a Site Development Plan (SDP) for Sami's Pizza Grande.
Council's next meeting is 5:30 p.m., Jan. 22, in the community room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.