Marco Council limits sidewalk ordinance moratorium to undeveloped, residential lots

Devan Patel
Marco Eagle

The Marco Island City Council has voted to limit its moratorium on enforcement of its sidewalk ordinance to undeveloped residential properties.

Sidewalks have been a topic of interest at recent Council meetings, including the approval of a stay of enforcement of its ordinance two weeks ago.

The discussion, however, was not complete as the Council took the suggestion of a local walking group to continue enforcement on commercial lots in unanimously approving the moratorium.

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

Rony Joel, the city’s former Public Works Director and a spokesman for a group of Marco Island walkers, said there was support for the ordinance but offered an alternative for safety precautions.

“We’d like to limit this moratorium to strictly residential lots,” Joel said. “Those lots that are zoned commercial should continue to have sidewalks. They are in the busier part of town.”

The issue of sidewalks first came before the council last month after realtors questioned the city’s ordinance requiring sidewalks on undeveloped property when it was more than likely that the sidewalk would have to be reconstructed when the property was developed.

A white paper by Councilor Larry Honig two weeks ago led to even more discussions including asking the city manager and staff to evaluate Honig’s suggestions. While the council supported his recommendations, there was some discomfort about the Council authoring changes from the dais.

After the stay of enforcement was approved, Capt. Dave 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.”

With the moratorium placed back on this week’s agenda, it drew the interest of Joel, who on behalf of a group of eight people, has submitted hundreds of potential code violations to the city over the past few months.

Although a hand count last week by Capt. Dave Baer found 171 complaints of sidewalks, Joel said the numbers were much higher and included a large number of potential violations related to negligent landscaping.

In his public comments, Joel showed the Council numerous photos of cracked and non-compliant sidewalks that have led to concerns about safety. Joel was also concerned with the condition of sidewalks near Marco Island Academy because he said a large number of students walk or bike to school.

Joel acknowledged that he too was cited for a code violation, but he has fixed the problem. Part of the issue, he said, was that his neighbors also had non-compliant sidewalks and yet they were not cited because code violations are complaint driven.

Despite a large number of potential complaints that have been submitted, Joel said the group would continue to scour the whole island to make sure sidewalks were safe to walk.

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