Have you received a complaint about your sidewalk? It may be from an ex-Marco city employee

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

If it weren’t for his neighbors, Scott Coverley wouldn’t have known he had been cited for a violation of the city of Marco Island’s sidewalk ordinance.

As it turned out, the same applied for the vast majority of people on his block as notices were taped to their garage doors. But as more information came to light, Coverley was shocked to find out that complaints made against him and many other homeowners came from Rony Joel, the city of Marco Island’s former public works director and general manager of the water and sewer department.

“The information was given to me by the guy giving the inspections,” Coverley said. “This ex-employee has decided to cause problems for the city.”

More:Marco Island City Council imposes moratorium on sidewalk ordinance enforcement

Although the city does not file complaints by the complainant, Capt. Dave Baer performed a hand count for the Marco Eagle and found that 171 complaints have been reported by Joel. Baer noted that complaints do not mean a violation has occurred.

The Marco Eagle was unable to reach Joel for comment.

Based upon the estimates Coverley has received thus far, the complaints could end up costing around $1 million total under the worse case scenario of all 171 complaints requiring sidewalk replacement. 

For homes that were built under the previous code, Coverley said it could also result in a greater cost due to the new code calling for 5-feet sidewalks. 

“If they replace them, they have to replace the sidewalk to the new building code,” Coverley said.

Besides Coverley’s frustrations with the code enforcement process, he said he hasn’t had his phone call returned by city management.

Last week, the City Council unanimously voted to stay enforcement of its sidewalk ordinance as Councilor Larry Honig proposed changes that would not require homeowners to construct sidewalks on undeveloped properties.

While Honig's suggestions and research were met with praise from his fellow council members, there was some apprehension about making language changes from the dais.

Suggestions made by Honig will be reviewed by the city manager and city staff as well as alternative language in the event other changes are required.

Baer said that no investigations or enforcement will occur on new complaints.

For the complaints prior the council’s actions, Baer said, “Cases or complaints which occurred prior to the stay and are already in the system, at varying stages, will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine what legal and safe options exist.”