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A rezoning of the Olde Marco Inn that could pave the way for upgrades and repairs of damage from Hurricane Irma will have to wait at least one more month after the Marco Island Planning Board granted the petitioner a continuance to address some of the concerns from nearby residents.

The Olde Marco Inn received extensive damage from last year’s Hurricane and last month, it announced plans to extensively renovate the property, including raising the hotel to current FEMA flood level heights and building a new wing that will house 41 additional units after demolishing existing commercial structures.

Bob Mulhere, a representative from Hole Montes, requested and was granted the continuance Friday so that the applicant could “address as many comments as we reasonably can” that arose from neighborhood meetings.

The preliminary plans for the proposed project call for the extraction of the original building, which was built in 1883, raising it to proper flood levels and rotating it back to where the original entrance was located.

Plans also call for a pool and deck area as well as a new restaurant with a capacity of 282 indoor and outdoor guests.

With the demolition of the existing commercial spaces and construction of a new wing, some of the businesses at the Shops of Olde Marco will be relocated to the deck area and inside the renovated building.

“Our redevelopment plan focuses on the historical significance of the Inn, while simultaneously creating a beautiful, first-class boutique hotel with exceptional food and beverage options, as well as a resort-style pool deck area,” Managing Partner John Allard said a news release.

While the hotel is excited about its proposed renovations, its neighbors are not so much.
Condominium owners and board members from their associations listed concerns about noise, an invasion of privacy with the four-story wing overlooking the one- and two-story condo buildings as well as the hotel changing the character of that part of Marco Island.

Residents, who packed the Marco Island community room, also opposed continuance and stated that the applicant had ample time to address their concerns.

“You need to be discussing rules to codes that are already here,” John Liimatta said. 

Without the applicant or attorney present, Mulhere said he had never been denied a continuance in his 33 years of experience and his due process would be damaged if it was not granted.

Mulhere’s comments led to a testy exchange with board member Dr. Ron Goldstein, who admonished Mulhere for not being prepared and received an applause from the crowd.

“We’re going to vote (on the continuance), today,” Goldstein said. “I don’t care about that.”

Goldstein and Board Member Joe Rola, however, were on the losing end of the continuance as its remaining members voted in favor of the applicant’s request.

Rola took notice of residents’ concerns about density, which he said has come up meeting after meeting and is addressed in the city’s comprehensive plan.

 “We shouldn’t be rolling over for the sake of progress all the time,” Rola said.

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