Compromise can be best explained when both sides don’t always get what they want but can walk away with some satisfaction. That may have been the case at the January 21 Marco City Council meeting regarding a request for a variance on a single-family home lot located in the gated community of Hideaway Beach.
Raymond Jean, the owner of the lot at 261 Hideaway Circle South, was seeking a variance to allow his home to be built on that lot. The variance would entail a 4–foot encroachment into a 30 ft. deep landscape buffer, which is required as part of the 1979 PUD (Planned Unit Development) agreement entered into by the original developers of the gated community in that area and runs along the rear of 36 Hideaway lots adjacent to the existing residential lots on Kendall Dr., Colonial Ave, and Spinnaker Drive.
The PUD was approved by Collier County prior to the City of Marco Island being incorporated. After incorporation, it became the city’s responsibility to view any requests regarding changes as per the documents incorporated in 1979 and the state statutes governing those responsibilities.
The request was originally presented to the Planning Board earlier this month. At that time, the staff had recommended that the request be denied, as it did not meet the requirements for a variance according to the regulations.
“We are responsible for following the regulations and laws on the books, unless the policymakers such as the Planning Board and Council chose to amend those regulations, which they have the authority to do. However, we all have to remember that these stipulations were put into place to protect both the abutting property owners as well as the petitioner,” said Daniel Smith the city’s Director of Growth Management.
The requirements to approve such a variance would be as follows.
- That there are special circumstances and conditions existing which are peculiar to the location, size and characteristics of the land, structure, or building involved.
- That there are special conditions and circumstances which do not result from the action of the applicant such as pre-existing conditions relative to the property which is the subject of the variance request.
- That a literal interpretation of the provisions of this LDC works an unnecessary and undue hardship on the applicant or creates a practical difficulty on the applicant.
- 4 That the variance, if granted, will be the minimum variance that will make possible the reasonable use of the land, building or structure and which promote standards of health, safety or welfare.
- That granting the variance requested will not confer on the petitioner any special privilege that is denied by this LDC to other lands, buildings, or structures in the same zoning district.
- That granting the variance will be in harmony with the intent and purpose of this zoning code, and not be injurious to the neighborhood, or otherwise detrimental to the public welfare.
- That there are natural conditions or physically induced conditions that ameliorate the goals and objectives of the regulation such as natural preserves, lakes, golf course, or similar circumstances; and
- That the granting of the variance will be consistent with the comprehensive plan.
The Planning Board eventually approved the variance request with the following conditions and forwarded it to the council for their consideration. The following stipulations were adopted.
- Reduce screen enclosure to a single story.
- Reduce the length of overhang (encroachment into buffer) by 20 feet.
- Agree to place a minimum of a six (6) foot high, opaque landscape screen along the rear property line in addition to the proposed landscape plan submitted with the application.
The council held an extended debate on the merits of the petition and whether any precedents would be established.
Dwight Klett, the owner at 300 Colonial Avenue, came forward with his concerns relative to the overall impact on his view and such a large structure looming over his single-story home.
The City Council eventually voted 4-3 to approve the petitioner’s request. Councilors Honig, Rios, Grifoni and Brechnitz voted to approve, with Councilors Reed, Young and Roman in opposition.