At the recent Marco Island Planning Board meeting, front and center on the agenda was the parking issue for businesses located in small plazas that are unable to meet more stringent parking regulations.
Small plazas, some less than 16,000 square feet, were the lifeblood for business locations during the early development days of Marco Island. Many businesses purchased their storefronts over the years or the office space they occupy. There are 26 of these plazas around the island.
Such is the case with Joe’s Barber Shop located at 247 North Collier Boulevard. Joe Mirabilo has been in business there for the last 26 years cutting hair. Some time ago, it was discovered that he lacked a zoning certificate, and to come into compliance with regulations he must acquire more parking per today’s codes.
The four stations for cutting hair require a total of 12 parking spaces, much more than what is available in the plaza. Codes require three spaces per work station; one for the barber and two for customers. (One in the seat and one waiting for a haircut.)
At the hearing, Adrian Conner spoke on behalf of her father in an attempt to continue to work with the Growth Management Department to resolve this issue. It is an issue which impacts a number of the smaller plazas on the island.
City staff has been working with Ms. Conner to help resolve this issue. Conner spoke in support of city staff’s proposal for an amendment to the existing regulations. “Under the present code we can never be brought into compliance and it’s a problem island-wide with smaller plazas,” said Conner. “To obtain the appropriate zoning certificate we must be in compliance,” she continued.
Daniel Smith, the city’s Director of Growth Management, concurred with Conner and advised the board that his staff was working diligently on resolving the issue. “We would best deal with this as a separate item rather than have it bunched with some additional Code changes,” said Smith.
Board Chairman Erik Brechnitz agreed with Smith and it was suggested that the issue before them be separated from other changes to the Code.
Board member Ron Goldstein suggested his solution might be to throw out what he saw as “absurd parking regulations.”
“Someone within your building must have complained and that is why Code Enforcement has been involved with this issue,” said Brechnitz, to which Connor agreed.
The meeting would end with Brechnitz saying, “We want to solve your problem.”