Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Responsibilities of the Planning Board

Our series of articles concerning the purposes and work being done by the city’s various advisory committees will now focus on the Marco Island Planning Board. Unlike any of the other committees or boards, this one is mandated by state law. All communities and counties must have planning agency that will review issues concerning zoning, their Comprehensive Plans and their Land Development Codes. All of these issues together determine the character of a community.

This oversight is extremely important regarding a governmental body’s ability to maintain the integrity and vision for how its residents view their community. Those duties serve to essentially protect the property values within the boundaries of a community, by doing so it maintains and enhances the quality of life for its citizens.

Marco Island is quite unique in its make-up, as its development began based upon a vision held by the Deltona Corporation and the Mackle Brothers. Unfortunately for Marco, their plans ran afoul of environmental concerns and the original plan was never completed, but it did lay a solid foundation for the community.

The planning board is advisory in nature however, and the last word on these issues resides with a city council, a board of commissioners or other elected body. Their opinions and suggestions, however, should carry great weight with the elected bodies of those respective political entities.

The Mission Statement for the Planning Board is listed on the city’s website as follows:

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.

These issues can span a wide range of areas, which may include but are not limited to, how to maintain water quality, determining appropriate definitions of what can be included within certain zoning areas, the review of Site Development Plans and petitions for new construction, in addition to requests for variances and conditional use applications.

All of these items and more will eventually have an impact on neighborhoods and the wide-ranging term referred to as “quality of life” within the community. Items that would impact “quality of life” may include but are not limited to noise, traffic, density and the intensity of development.

The vision a community has of itself may change over time due to a number of concerns. It is important that any planning agency be responsive to the desired needs of its community and those residents that live within its boundaries as they seek to provide for a measured and thoughtful response to those requirements, while keeping the community’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code in mind.

In many cases it is important that the other city advisory committees become part of the conversations regarding issues that will eventually come before the Planning Board and consider their input. One case in particular dealt with the redrafting of a comprehensive Fertilizer Ordinance.

The city’s professional planning staff are an important and valued asset to the Planning Board. It is their responsibility to bring forth those petitions dealing zoning and planning issues to include their recommendations and supporting information to provide the Planning Board with a solid foundation to make educated and sound recommendations to the City Council for final adjudication of the matters before them.

One Planning Board member is appointed by each councilor, serving for the entire term of his/her council person. They meet once a month on the first Friday at 9 AM in the City Council Chambers, unless additional workshops or meeting s are required. All meeting are open to the public for attendance and input.

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