2 businesses seek Planned Unit Development at Collier-Bald Eagle corner

Steve Stefanides

Two businesses and the city of Marco Island staff went before the city Planning Board with reams of materials and expert witnesses to discuss the creation of a Planned Unit Development at one of the island's busiest intersections.

If the city approves, the PUD would include the properties known as the Island Plaza at the corner of Bald Eagle Drive and North Collier Boulevard and the properties at 720 and 740 Bald Eagle Drive known as the Progressive Auto Storage and Progressive Auto Care Center.

Both properties are adjacent and are coming together jointly to meet the acreage requirement for a PUD in the mid-town district, which is 5 acres.

The city is especially sensitive to the nature of this application as several requests have come before both the Planning Board and the Marco Island City Council concerning the request from Progressive to allow interior self-storage within their facilities.

Those requests have consistently been turned down by the council.

The city's growth management department has recommended the request be denied as staff sees no overriding need within the community for such a designation.

The city has contracted with LaRue Planning and Management services to conduct an independent planning review of the Island Plaza PUD petition. They have based some of their conclusions on those findings.

Attorney Richard Yovanovich, representing Progressive, explained that they have removed any request for the inclusion of self-storage in their petition and were only seeking the return of their original rights for uses taken from them due to previous council decisions.

Yovanovich also alluded to the fact that this "taking of property rights" from Progressive might fall under the Burt Harris Act, which provides protection to property owners from the loss of property rights by governmental bodies.

Progressive is joined by Island Plaza Investments, LLC, part of Hendricks Commercial Properties Group headquartered in Beloit, Wisc., which owns the Island Plaza retail/office center.

The group purchased the Island Plaza in July 2013. Hendricks specializes in the purchase and operation of shopping plazas around the county and has indicated a desire to rehabilitate the plaza – with a major infusion of cash if the PUD is approved.

Part of that rehabilitation would involve some joint parking, landscaping and traffic-flow enhancements to be shared between the two property owners.

The one question consistently asked at the meeting by board members was: Why the need for a PUD?

"We want some assurance that we will be able to have our rights for conditional uses protected," said Robert Mulhere of Hole Montes, professional planners representing the petitioners.

The PUD process would not require the petitioners to appear before the board for any additional considerations or approvals so long as the usages are consistent with those permitted by the codes in the C1 to C4 zoning districts.

Board members had a number of questions and inquiries of both staff and the petitioners that they wanted answered before making any definitive finding.

The Planning Board will continue discussion until its June 15 meeting.