Homeowner alleges mismanagement of her case
The City Council heard from an upset citizen at Monday's meeting. Also: the city has received a new community flood rating.
The City Council met Monday with a light agenda that got the councilors, city staff and members of the public out the door in just over an hour.
Flood insurance discount
Kelli DeFedericis – the city’s floodplain coordinator – announced at Monday’s meeting that the city’s community flood rating was reduced from class six to class five, which will allow Marco Island residents to save a little bit of money on their flood insurance.
The rating system is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) national flood insurance program (NFIP). The program is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements, according to the agency’s website.
The community rating system (CRS) is based on four categories: public information, mapping and regulation, flood damage reduction and flood preparedness. There are 10 classes with the lower classes receiving greater discounts on flood insurance.
Marco Island has participated in the program since 1999, DeFedericis said. Its previous Class Six rating gave residents a 20 percent discount on flood insurance, which generated an estimated $2 million in annual savings; the new Class Five rating will give residents a 25 percent discount, generating an additional $500,000 in annual savings.
There are 1,368 CRS communities nationwide, 113 of which are Class Five or better. Twenty five of those 113 communities are in the state of Florida and three are in Collier County: the City of Marco Island, the City of Naples and the county as a whole.
DeFedericis and City Manager Roger Hernstadt presented the councilors with a plaque indicating the city’s new Class Five status.
Citizen announces investigation
At the July 18 City Council meeting Marco Island resident Barbara Young informed the councilors that the building department applied "double standards" with regards to an inspection of her home. Young said that she’s made the council aware of “repeated acts of negligence and violations of statutes and ordinances [by] the building department’s employees.”
At Monday’s City Council meeting Young reiterated her complaints and expressed disappointment in the council’s lack of response. She said the Department of Business and Professional Regulation has launched an official investigation of the city's building department.
“I really deeply regret that it’s come to this,” Young said. “It’s going to cost the citizens of Marco because once again … taxpayer money is going to be used to defend the indefensible,” she said, referring to the city and its alleged mismanagement of her case.
"The blame clearly rests on all your shoulders. While you had the power and authority to do something, not one of you had the moral courage or strength of character to admit that mistakes have been made," she told the councilors. "All of you have conveniently eliminated yourselves from the need to ask the most important question: what can we do to ensure that this does not happen to another citizen?"
Councilor Larry Honig took Young’s testimony to heart, and recommended that the city increase its transparency with regards to the building department’s operations.
“I think it would be worth having the city explain: what is the issue? Why do we keep getting emails? Why do ... citizens [keep] coming up talking about the building department? I would like to see us respond in a formal, public way [through] the city staff,” he said.
Councilor Joe Batte agreed with Honig, but said their actions are limited now that a formal investigation is underway.
“I felt very badly at the last meeting,” he said, “however … complaints have been filed and that makes it a whole different ball game. We have to be very careful in terms of how much we get involved with that. Any testimony, anything that we say will be used by the investigating authorities.”
In other business
The City Council unanimously approved a series of resolutions requesting conditional use approvals for commercial business unit owners located at 291 S. Collier Blvd. The council also approved a resolution requesting an extension of a temporary use permit for a model home/sales center located at 1034 San Marco Rd.
The councilors also unanimously approved an ordinance requesting an amendment to the Land Development Code (LDC). City officials are seeking input from community members and business professionals regarding the revision of the city’s LDC and will hold a series of meetings next week.
The community input meeting is at 6 p.m., Aug. 10, in the community room at 51 Bald Eagle Drive. The stakeholder meetings – which are for developers, contractors, business owners, special interest groups and other professionals – are on Aug. 11 at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the conference room at city hall. Stakeholders interested in attending should call Sara Propst, Planner II, at 239-389-3947.
The City Council’s next meeting will be at 5:30 p.m., Aug. 15, in the community room at 51 Bald Eagle Drive.