Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Marco Planning Board Resumes


Photos by Steve Stefanides | New Board Member Tom Swartz.


The Marco Island Planning Board had not met since March 6th this year due to the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic spread across the nation. 

Board Chairperson Claire Babrowski welcomed new member Tom Swartz who has taken the place of Mike Finkle who passed away unexpectedly in early February after a short illness. 

Swartz himself came to Marco Island in 1997 and made Marco his permanent residence 4 years ago. He was appointed by Board Chairman Erik Brechnitz to replace his longtime friend Mike Finkle who was Brechnitz’s original appointee.  

Swartz’s grandfather, James Jacob Swartz, had started the JJ Swartz Company in Decatur, Illinois in 1921. His father Carl Swartz carried on from his father, and Tom Swartz would follow in his footsteps. He continued to build upon the two elder Swartz’s legacies, as does Tom Swartz’s son Brad who now runs the company. That company is heavily involved in remodeling, new home building and insurance renovations, now in its 4th generation of Swartz leadership. 

The board quickly moved to discuss a staff recommendation to deny a boat dock extension to a homeowner located at Giralda Court. The dock is presently located beyond the maximum extension of 30 feet into the canal and the owner is requesting to bring that anomaly, which has the dock at 35 feet into compliance.  

Staff member Mary Holden explained the original permit came in for a demolition of the non-compliant boathouse, however, multiple revisions were made by the applicant and a clerical error allowed the dock to be permitted at 35 feet and the old boathouse remaining.


Board Member Ed Issler questions applicants for dock variance.


Neighbors objected to the allowance of the petition because the owners were in fact operating a business out of their home utilizing the pontoon boat on the oversized dock. This home and dock are located in a residentially zoned district. They showed the visual proof of that commercial vessel found on social media sites. 

Board member David Vergo voiced his concern that the city had erred, but also was concerned that the boat in question was being used for a commercial purpose. Board member Issler moved to accept the staff’s recommendation to deny the request for a variance. The staff’s recommendation was approved 5-2 to deny the request. Their recommendation will now go before the City Council. 

The board then approved a change in the Coastal Control Construction Line to allow the state to issue the necessary permits. The vote was unanimous. 

The board would also move forward to pass a variance that will allow tenants at the Shops of Marco and the property owner to erect necessary signage during the construction scheduled as part of the rebuilding of the Publix property at 167 South Barfield Drive. The variance passed unanimously. 

A Site Development Plan was also approved for the Italian Deli for a planned 150 seat restaurant to be built at 902 Park Avenue. That plan will be sent to the council for final approval. 

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