Marco Island City Council imposes moratorium on sidewalk ordinance enforcement

Devan Patel
Marco Eagle
Closeup of feet and legs - People walking on cracked sidewalk with various shoes and pants

Continued issues and complaints with the city of Marco Island’s sidewalk ordinance have prompted the City Council to request a stay of enforcement until changes can be brought forward.

Councilor Larry Honig authored a white paper in advance of Monday’s meeting that proposed a few changes to the city’s current sidewalk ordinance which requires property owners to construct sidewalks on all real property.

While the Council did not adopt the changes immediately, it unanimously approved staying enforcement of the ordinance so that the city manager and staff could review Honig’s suggestions and offer alternatives.

The topic of sidewalks was broached a little more than two weeks ago when local realtors suggested that Marco Island could increase taxable values by removing the requirement that sidewalks be constructed on vacant lots.

Honig found through research that half of the vacant lots on Marco Island have sidewalks and thus far, 35 to 40 citations have been issued which have resulted in properties coming into compliance.

In speaking with Capt. Dave Baer, Honig said 30 to 40 citations may be issued in the future as a result of code violations being called in by citizens.

Although she supported changes to the sidewalk ordinance, Vice-Chair Charlette Roman said that she was not comfortable rewriting the ordinance from the dais and made the suggestion that the city freeze enforcement until recommendations come back to council.

Councilor Howard Reed, while supportive of looking at changes to vacant lots, said the city also needed to be cognizant of the safe routes to school, which provided shared use paths around schools from grant funding.

Reed suggested that the safe routes be exempted along with any route the city felt was important to public safety.

In addition to agreeing with Reed’s points, Chairperson Jared Grifoni said that it was common sense that sidewalks would have to be destroyed when a person builds on a vacant lot and the current policy placed a heavy cost burden on residents.

“The overall review with a timeout makes a lot of sense,” Grifoni said. “We don’t want to miss anything, especially with schools like Councilor Reed mentioned and was a great point. Kids need to be able to walk to school and we need to be able to take that into account.”