Down the drain: Marco City Council sends back stormwater management ordinance

Lisa Conley
Marco Eagle

The Marco Island City Council met Monday and, after four and a half hours, was unable to address all of the items on its agenda, in large part due to an in-depth discussion on a proposed storm-water management ordinance.

In 2015 the city created a storm-water management program that had to adhere to a set of state-mandated requirements. Those requirements must be met within five years; should the city fail to meet them within that time frame, it will be subject to fines from the state.

A storm drain on Goodland Drive, across from Stan's Idle Hour Restaurant, overflows during heavy rains, said Goodland resident Cleve Smith.

One of the requirements is to implement an illicit discharge ordinance, which the planning board first discussed at its July 7 meeting.

The board members had several concerns about the ordinance, including the broad definition of the term illicit discharge, the $250/day fine for violators and the requirement that current homes be retrofitted with illicit discharge drainage systems.

The motion to approve the ordinance ultimately failed with a tied vote of 3-3.

More:A stormy session: Divided Marco Planning Board rejects stormwater management ordinance

More:Planning Board gets technical in involved stormwater management discussion

The board re-visited the ordinance at its Aug. 4 meeting, and the board members remained skeptical, although no vote was taken on the issue. 

On Monday the ordinance appeared before the city councilors, who, like the Planning Board members, had many questions about it.

"The crux of the matter is this: Will this ordinance do what it's supposed to do? Only a professional on our staff can answer that," councilor Charlette Roman said.

Marco Island city councilor Charlette Roman during her time on the Planning Board.

For that reason, she recommended that council hold off on approving the ordinance until it is fully vetted.

"My motion is that we continue this item until the interim city manager and his staff can complete this packet to include a signed written report from the public works director and any other staff that's necessary to lay out the pros and cons of delaying this, instituting this and what the repercussions are," she said. "We do not have that in front of us tonight."

Councilor Bob Brown agreed.

"Councilor Roman said it all," he said. "I'm in total agreement with everything she brought forward."

He also emphasized that the city needs to make the ordinance a priority given that it's entering year three of the five-year program.

Councilor Victor Rios advocated rejecting the ordinance flat out.

"I've been through the details, I've spoken to people about it and I'm a believer that no ordinance is better than a bad ordinance," he said, a reiteration of his comments at the last planning board meeting. "And I think the way that it's written, it's a bad ordinance."

Council unanimously decided to send the ordinance back to both the Planning Board and the Waterways Advisory Committee. It also requested that city staff issue a report on the ordinance, and that the city attorney review and sign off on the report. 

The ordinance will re-appear before the council no later than November.

Mary Husted receives a standing ovation during the August 7 Marco Island City Council meeting. Council recognized Husted, who recently retired, for her 19 years of service to the fire department as its administrative assistant.

In other business

Council approved an ordinance making a change to the city's Land Development Code (LDC) to allow for nautical garages, 5-2 with councilors Brown and Joe Batte dissenting.

Council recognized Camp Mackle counselor Abby Martin for saving the life of one of her campers by successfully administering the Heimlich maneuver, and Mary Husted, who recently retired from the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department after 19 years of service as the department’s administrative assistant.

The councilors scheduled an additional meeting to review the budget items they did not have time to address; they will meet at 5:30 p.m., Aug. 14, in the community room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.