Monday, March 25, 2019

Challenges Lay Ahead for Planning Board


Over the last week, three significant appointments were made to what some believe is the second most important board within municipal or county government in the State of Florida. The Planning Board, Planning Commission or Planning Advisory Board is the only such governance board that is required by state statute to be appointed.

According to the City Charter, the Marco Island Planning Board is responsible for the following;

The Planning Board’s focus is to enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors on Marco Island while managing growth and development and protecting the island’s tropical small-town character. In our role as the Land Development Regulation Commission (in accordance with Florida Statutes), we will review the Land Development Code to address areas of concern identified by the City Council, the Planning Board, other City Committees and/or community organizations to determine the appropriateness of proposed code changes.

As the City’s Land Planning Agency, the Planning Board is responsible for initiating and reviewing changes to the Comprehensive Plan (Long Range Planning Document) and reviewing all other petitions and Code changes for consistency with the Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Board recommendations are forwarded to City Council.

Of course, the City Council has the final say in all matters and the Planning Board may only advise in those matters which come before it. The Planning Board does carry considerable weight in those matters which do come before it.

Three New Members Join Board

Three new members assumed their positions on the board last Friday. Appointed last week were Mike Finkle by Council Chairman Erik Brechnitz, Claire Babrowski by Councilor Larry Honig (after the election of Erik Brechnitz to City Council), and Jason Bailey by Councilor Sam Young. They will join carryovers David Vergo, appointed by Councilor Jared Grifoni; Ed Issler, appointed by Councilor Howard Reed; Joe Rola, appointed by Councilor Victor Rios; and the fourth carryover, Ron Goldstein, an appointment by Councilor Charlette Roman.

Photos by Steve Stefanides | Mike Finkle, new Planning Board member.

Board Elects Chair and Vice-Chair

The newly seated board elected their leadership team for the next year. Ron Goldstein, who had served as the acting Board Chair until the vote last week was voted into the position of Chairman. Goldstein had served for one year as the Vice-Chairman under Erik Brechnitz, who served as chairman for over a year and a half prior to being elected a city councilor and then becoming the Council Chairman at the November 2018 council meeting.

Claire Babrowski, a relative unknown in city affairs, was chosen as the Vice-Chair of the board. She has a wide resume of experience in the business world and was appointed to fill Erik Brechnitz’s position on the board after his election as a city councilor.

Board Faces Challenges

Marco Island, along with its planning staff and volunteer boards face several serious challenges, all related to growth, the push for expanded services and an environment which is under attack by that growth in population itself and the challenges associated with the development which comes with it.

A young community, Marco Island, which has only just past its 20th birthday since cityhood and only 52 years since the first shovel was turned in the soil to begin that development under the Mackle Brothers/Deltona Corporation, is still in its infancy.

Planning will be a “Herculean Task” for those that have stepped up to the undertaking before them. It will take patience and a prudent and balanced approach to those challenges, knowing full-well that not everyone will be pleased with the sacrifices required.

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