Marco Island City Council OKs use of artificial turf

Steve Stefanides

A green thumb may not be a necessity any longer if a homeowner wants a great-looking lawn but save some money on irrigation costs.

The Marco Island City Council, following the lead of the Planning Board, voted to allow the installation of artificial turf in residential applications.

A number of homes had synthetic turf installed before the city drafted an ordinance prohibiting its use a few years ago. Today, the materials and technology have changed enough that staff and the planning board reviewed the issue in January upon receipt of support information provided during a January meeting.

Some concern was raised over whether the city would be inundated with a rush to install the new material.

"I really don't think we'll be seeing a rush to doing this," said City Manager Roger Hernstadt.

At its February meeting, the Planning Board took up the issue of an ordinance to allow the use of synthetic turf as an alternative in residential neighborhoods on a case-by-case basis. It would not be permitted in the swale areas, but allowed on the remainder of the lot.

Council would eventually pass the ordinance, but not limit it to side yards or residential applications and allow the synthetic material both in swales and on commercial lots.

Price is said to be about $10 a square foot for the installation of the new material.

One of the complaints by islanders that has fueled the debate about synthetic ground covering lies in the high cost to water lawns.

As a response to those concerns, the city council passed an ordinance to allow the installation of a separate irrigation meter on a residential property, which may provide relief from high monthly bills.