Planning Board, City Council to discuss density transfers

Lisa Conley; 239-213-5308

The Marco Island Planning Board will meet at 9 a.m., Friday, to discuss an ordinance establishing a year-long moratorium on the transfer of density credits.

City of Marco Island Government Center sign.

At its Feb. 6 meeting, City Council passed the moratorium 4-3, with councilors Joe Batte, Bob Brown and Chair Larry Honig dissenting. Councilor Brown reiterated his sentiments from previous meetings at which the moratorium was discussed.

“We’re out of line trying to do this. We’re reacting to a political situation,” he said, referring to the now defunct Veterans Community Park hotel project, which required a transfer of density credits. "I don't think we're helping the city in the long run at all."

But the other councilors said the moratorium doesn't necessarily mean that the city will permanently ban the transfer of density credits; instead, it simply gives the Planning Board time to assess the ordinance without fear of a project application involving density credit transfers disrupting the process.

“(The goal is to) simply put a pause on the current density transfer issue and allow the Planning Board, staff and City Council time to sufficiently review (it),” Vice-Chair Grifoni said. “The presumption is to allow breathing room for the Planning Board and allow them the opportunity to lead us.”

The Planning Board will give City Council its recommendations on the moratorium ordinance, which the council will then discuss at its Monday meeting.

Coming to terms; City Council to discuss Roger Hernstadt’s separation agreement

The Marco Island City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m., Monday, to discuss the separation agreement between the city and former City Manager Roger Hernstadt.

In Hernstadt’s resignation letter, he requested to receive 20 weeks' pay, as well as benefits through December, for a severance package totaling $132,430. He also requested to retain his city-issued iPad for consultation purposes.

Former Marco Island City Manager Roger Hernstadt

City Attorney Alan Gabriel negotiated with Hernstadt and drafted a separation agreement which he presented to the council at its Feb. 21 meeting. The agreement included a $115,946 severance package and a non-disparagement clause at Hernstadt’s request.

At the meeting, Grifoni pointed out several issues with the separation agreement, including its inconsistency with both Hernstadt’s letter of resignation and his contract, and the inclusion of a clause that retains Hernstadt as a consultant through Dec. 31.

“That has never been done before … (and) it seems to me to be unnecessary,” he said.

Councilor Victor Rios agreed.

“It’s counterproductive, unprofessional and not fair to the city staff or new manager,” he said. “There has never been a need for a continued relationship (with former city managers.)”

The council rejected the current separation agreement 5-2 with councilors Brown and Batte dissenting. Council also agreed that Grifoni, who’s a lawyer, would help Gabriel draft a new agreement.

The new separation agreement, which Hernstadt signed on Feb. 28, includes an $89,000 severance package.

At the meeting the council will also discuss an ordinance establishing a year-long moratorium for the establishment or operation of medical marijuana facilities, rezoning Veterans Community Park and creating an ad hoc parking solutions committee.

Both the Planning Board and City Council meet in the community room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.