Setback requirements setback Planning Board progress

The Planning Board met Friday morning as part of its continuing quest to update the city’s Land Development Code (LDC).

Richard Cannone (left) of Calvin, Giordano and Associates, Inc. presents the list of 33 "glitches" within the city's Land Development Code to the Planning Board on Friday, Dec. 2, 2016.

The bulk of the nearly four-hour meeting was spent deliberating setback requirements for houses with regards to installing pool pumps, air conditioning (AC) units and generators. As the board discussed what the setback requirements should be, it quickly became apparent that not all houses and properties were created equal.

Specifically, it would be easier for new homes on larger properties to abide by the greater setback requirements the board was considering, one of the contractors at the workshop explained, but pre-existing houses on smaller lots would have very little freedom when it comes to installing on-the-ground mechanical equipment.

The board ultimately agreed to direct city staff to look into creating separate setback requirements for larger and smaller properties, as well as new vs. pre-existing homes.

Board members spent another large portion of the morning discussing how the changes to the LDC would affect the code enforcement officers, who operate under the Marco Island Police Department (MIPD.)

The Code Enforcement Magistrate hearing is a private quasi-judicial process in which MIPD officers, community service officers and property owners testify in cases regarding code violations, such as noise complaints and overgrown weeds.

MIPD Captain Dave Baer said most of the changes would not negatively impact the officers; however, he did have two suggestions for the board members: pay attention to the language they use in the changes and re-think the amount of time an individual or company is given to fix a temporary-use permit code violation.

“Words matter,” he said. “When you use words like ‘sediment,’ what does that mean? When I go out on a call and somebody says there’s sediment going someplace, what’s sediment mean? It needs to be defined. If you (say) that ‘erosion control’ has to take place, well what does that mean? Just a bale of hay or a specific kind of fence? Those specifics (and) definitions should be a part of the changes you’re making.”

As for the temporary-use permit code violations, an individual or company is currently given 10 days to become compliant with the code, which Baer called “unacceptable.”

“If someone decides, either on purpose or on accident, to put a port-a-potty in your front yard next to a construction site…the way (the LDC) is drafted today is those guys have 10 days to get that port-a-potty out of your front yard,” he said. “And if that port-a-potty tips over in front of your house, they have 10 days to fix that, too. That’s unacceptable.

“It essentially legalizes trespassing,” he continued. “You’ve told people you have 10 days to trespass and move the stuff.”

MIPD Capt. Dave Baer

Baer recommended that the board treat temporary-use permit violations the same way it does any other violation: leave it up to the code enforcement officers to determine the amount of time an individual or company is given to come into compliance with the code.

However, some of the Planning Board members questioned the competency of the code enforcement officers; board member Frank Mulligan shared a personal story of a negative experience he had with code enforcement officers.

"I apologized at the time and I apologize again," Baer said. "We're not perfect."

The board agreed to take the captain's comments intro consideration during its next LDC workshop, which is 9 a.m. June 16. The Planning Board's next regular meeting is 9 a.m. June 2 in the city council's chambers, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.