The dais within the city council chambers finally has its seven seats filled with seven citizens as council members. Six members on Monday evening chose Claire Babrowski to occupy the seat formerly filled by Councilman Victor Rios, who resigned in October of this year.
Babrowski, as well as citizens Nanette Rivera and Elizabeth Stephenson had applied to fill that vacancy. All three sat with each individual council members to discuss their applications and discuss the open position.
The three applicants came forward during the Monday council meeting and spoke to their individual interest in the position. At the completion of their presentations council filled out secret ballots and provided them to the City Clerk who would tabulate them and would subsequently announce that Ms. Babrowski had indeed received a majority vote for her candidacy for that position.
City Clerk Laura Litzan swore in Ms. Babrowski and she joined with her fellow councilors on the dais for her first meeting. This will now leave her position as the Chair of the Marco Island Planning Board vacant.
Council would breeze through the remainder of the agenda, which included the granting of a hardship variance that will allow the completion of substantial renovations to a structure at 1200 Bluebird Avenue. In addition, they would approve an ordinance which would adopt the amended Chapter 22 of the Florida Fire Prevention Codes. They would also adopt amendments to the Florida Building Codes to bring the city codes up to date.
They adopted on First Reading an amendment to the Marco Land Development Code to allow for the use of barbed wire or similar security fencing for the protection of Utility Substations, Sewage Treatment Plants, Critical Utility Facilities or similar uses.
Council would discuss how best to recruit for appointments to boards and advisory committees. It was agreed to move forward with a process to allow for appointments to be made in February. The city will begin to advertise immediately for those potential candidates.
Council would also move to in-source janitorial services for the Parks and Recreational Department at a potential savings of $25,000 per year for the city.
City Manager Michael McNees reported that they will be receiving a million-dollar CARES ACT GRANT to help to defer some of the expenses related to the city’s response to the COVID Pandemic during 2020. McNees would recognize the efforts of the city’s Finance Director Gil Polanco and his staff for that success.
COUNCIL ATTENDS WORKSHOP ON COMP PLAN UPDATE
The council engaged a consultant to carry out a workshop regarding the updates to the Comprehensive Plan. It was evident some councilors were not pleased with the processes being employed, especially with attempts draw comparisons between the Marco Community and
Councilman Brechnitz questioned the ability to gain the appropriate input from the public due to the reluctance to engage in larger gatherings due to the COVID virus. He also spoke to the area of “re-development. “Much of this is market driven and some of it is out of the control of government,” said Brechnitz who didn’t feel there was much that government, especially a small entity such as the city could influence. He would go on the explain the delicate balance that government has on an island which seeks to maintain “its small-town atmosphere,” and has that as one of its Strategic Planning Goals.
Councilor Blonna went on to question some of their assumptions in areas such as the need for affordable housing, when numbers show that 90% of those 75 or older own their own homes and they are projecting that the 75 or older demographic will continue to grow as a much larger segment of the overall population on the island in the next 20 years.
Another area which Blonna questioned lay with some of the comments. “In your reports you are quoted as saying 105 Marco Units are overcrowded, 88 units have no fuel, 131 units lack complete kitchen facilities, and 30 units lack complete sanitary facilities.” Blonna would go on to point out that those numbers are from estimates taken from statistical models and not any actual data.
“I really believe that portrays a very inaccurate picture of Marco Island,” said Blonna when addressing two of the team members contracted to look at the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
Other councilors would have similar questions during the two-hour session.
A Town-Hall meeting has been advertised to be held during two separate sessions on Saturday, December 12 at Mackle Park to update the community on the plan and to take input. You may sign up to attend either of those sessions by emailing email@example.com. The early session will run from 9:30am to 10:30am and the later session will fun from 10:30am to 11:30am. You are encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask. The sessions will be held on the basketball courts at the Mackle Park Center.