Marco Island Planning Board finally gives cut-in nautical garages the thumbs up

Lisa Conley
Marco Eagle

The Marco Island Planning Board has approved an amendment authorizing cut-in nautical garages; the approval comes eight months after a homeowner submitted an application to build a cut-in nautical garage.

The Marco Island Planning Board discusses cut-in nautical garages during its Friday, June 16 meeting. The board ultimately approved an LDC amendment authorizing cut-in nautical garages.

Cut-in nautical garages have been an item of discussion since October 2016. The city’s Land Development Code (LDC) currently does not allow cut-in nautical garages, so the Planning Board recommended an LDC amendment that would authorize homeowners to build a cut-in nautical garage by obtaining a conditional use permit or by going through a public hearing process.

Board members initially approved the amendment in November 2016, but then-Zoning Administrator Tami Scott brought it back before the board in December, saying the board's intentions were unclear at the last meeting.

More:Planning Board discusses boat garages, parking and more

After some back-and-forthing and additional language changes, the board once again approved the amendment, with the caveat that a boat slip will not be permitted as part of the marginal dock when the property already has a nautical garage or cut-in slip.

The amendment then went before the City Council, where the motion to approve it failed to get a second. It appeared before council again on April 3, this time as a quasi-judicial hearing.

A rendering of the proposed cut-in nautical garage.

Craig Woodward, attorney for the applicant, said at the April 3 meeting that the project has come an incredibly long way for it to just now be brought into question.

"(My client) has been working his way through a lot of items," he said, referring to a litany of permits, applications and other requirements, "with assurance from the city staff that everything was going to be fine. It seems to me that if everything isn't going to be fine, you don't submit an application, you don't accept somebody's $3,000 ... the Planning Board doesn't approve it and it doesn't move forward."

More:Planning Board reviews LDC 'glitch list'

Woodward called the situation “a complete failure” because of the misdirection from city staff. Chair Larry Honig agreed.

“This is government at its worst. This is stunning. This is an individual’s private property, he’s got a use and,” he exhaled sharply, “wow.

“I am disappointed to be associated with a city government that conducts itself this way,” Honig continued. "This is not right.”

More:Marco Island City Council Chair Larry Honig: 'This is government at its worst'

The amendment was bounced back to the Planning Board, which discussed it at its meeting Friday. Board member Ed Issler expressed many concerns about the project, including its impact on the canal’s water quality and its potential for creating a dangerous precedent.

“Once you allow one, you have a hard time saying no to the next one,” Issler said, “and the more cut-ins you have, the more susceptible your seawall is to failure. I see a lot of negatives and no positives.”

The motion ultimately passed 4-1 with Issler dissenting. However, the project is not out of hot water yet; the amendment will once again appear before the city council, which has the ultimate power to approve or reject it.

In other business

The Planning Board continued its review of the LDC's "glitch list," with setback requirements once again serving as one of the primary points of discussion.

More:Setback requirements setback Planning Board progress

The board's next meeting is 9 a.m. July 7 in the council’s chambers, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.