Lack of council discussion on planning ordinances irks board

Devan Patel
Marco Eagle
Marco Island Planning Board Vice-Chair Ed Issler makes a point in this file photo.

Planning Board Chairman Erik Brechnitz was none too pleased with lack of discussion at last Monday’s Marco Island City Council meeting.

Brechnitz was on-hand as the first reading of two ordinances, relating to changes to site development plan approval requirements and the land development code, that were referred to the council for discussion and potential approval.

The problem for Brechnitz was that the two ordinances did not go anywhere and there was no discussion of any issues despite the planning board spending dozens of hours pining through the changes. 

“To say that I was irritated was a huge understatement because of a lot of reasons,” Brechnitz said. “First of all, this whole exercise of going through the land development code and removing what we call the glitch list was required by the city council. They even approved a consult to assist us in that effort to the tune of $90,000.”

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Last year, the city council approved a resolution for the city to contract with Calvin, Giordano and Associates, Inc. to revise the city’s land development code, which was last updated in 2007.

Part of the rationale for the changes was to clear up inconsistencies in the code and make it easier to operate.

The “glitch list” Brechnitz referred to in comments and addressed in the proposed ordinance changes include site plans with deviation, side yard encroachments, setbacks for screen enclosure/pool areas on waterfront lots, garage doors, utility sheds and chainlink fencing.

For all the hours of work, including public hearings and citizen input sessions, Brechnitz believed the council did not provide the board with the courtesy it deserved.

“The proper response, in my opinion, from the council, was that if they didn’t like our work product, discuss it and tell us what they didn’t like about and either change it on the spot and approve it as they amend it or send it back to us for more work,” Brechnitz said. “The notion that they don’t even discuss the item and it just dies and stay in this limbo state is just not acceptable.” 

While the council did not hold a discussion when the items came up on Monday's agenda, Chairman Jared Grifoni addressed the issue during council communications.

“It’s not right for the planning board to be requested to do certain items and not even have a discussion about it,” Grifoni said.

Because there was no input given, Grifoni said it couldn’t go back to the planning board because there was no direction.

Councilor Victor Rios said part of the issue was that there was no second to approve the motion, but from the comments from the council, there were issues with the changes proposed by the board.

As a result, the Council has agreed to take up the land development code and site plan approval ordinances again at its next meeting.