Planning Board continues to grapple with LDC changes

Lisa Conley
Marco Eagle

The Marco Island Planning Board met Friday morning to continue the arduous process of revising the city's Land Development Code (LDC.)

Chairman Eric Brechnitz, left, listens to Vice-Chair Ed Issler in this file photo.

Although there was some discussion at the last Planning Board meeting about abandoning the update, the board instead modified its approach to accommodate for new staff and other changes that have occurred since the revision process began in August 2016.

More:Planning Board begins LDC update

One of the first ordinances the board reviewed addressed a litany of the LDC's "glitches", including site plans with deviation, side yard encroachments, setbacks for screen enclosure/pool areas on waterfront lots, garage doors, utility sheds and chainlink fencing.

Jason Bailey — whose wife, Lisa Nguyen, founded Island Montessori Academy — asked the board to consider revising the LDC so that private schools would be allowed to have chainlink fences; as it currently stands, in commerical zones chainlink fences are only permissible at public schools, public parks and government-owned utility structures.

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Prior to Hurricane Irma, Island Montessori Academy had a permitted chainlink fence, but it  — and the rest of the building — was destroyed during the storm. In order to replace the fence, Bailey would either have to go through the variance application process again, which costs approximately $2,000, or install a non-chainlink fence, which would also be expensive.

"If we can do ball fields, if we can do playgrounds for the city, if we can do lift stations for the city with coated chainlink fence that staff is saying is ugly, then let my little school have some ugly chainlink fencing, too," he said. "I don't think a chainlink fence is the end of the world."

Board member Ron Goldstein agreed.

"I've never been so confused in my life about chainlink fences," he said. "You allow (chainlink fences) in residential (neighborhoods) in the side yard and rear, why he cannot put a chainlink fence in the rear where nobody sees it from the street is beyond reason, and if you're not allowing him to do that, you really need to explain it. It's absurd."

Damage from Hurricane Irma can be seen at the Marco Eagle office on Monday, September 11, 2017 in Marco Island, Fla.

However, staff reminded the board that they need to think about the larger ramifications of changing the LDC.

"Codes and ordinances were put together not necessarily for the person who's going to do the right thing; a lot of them were designed for the possible (people) out there who do the wrong thing," Daniel Smith, director of community affairs and one of the board's staff liaisons, said. "We have to look at the whole master plan, the big picture of the whole island."

Board member Frank Mulligan suggested allowing chainlink fences for private schools so long as the fence is in the rear; however, although the school's fence would be in the back of the building, due to the layout of the property, the fence would be visible from three different streets, thus the city would not consider it to be in the rear.

Chair Erik Brechnitz echoed Smith's sentiments.

"We've got to write this ordinance that will be for everybody," he said. "We're getting hung up on a specific problem. I'd like to solve (Bailey's) problem, and I would like staff to work on it to solve it, but I don't think we can change a city ordinance to accommodate one issue."

The board ultimately did not make any changes to the LDC regarding chainlink fences.

In other business

The board members discussed setbacks for air conditioning units, generators and pool pumps/heaters. They also discussed regulations regarding boat docking facilities.

Planning Board's next meeting is 9 a.m., Nov. 3, in the community room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.