Sidewalks became a subject of a lengthy discussion at the last Marco Island City Council meeting.
Local realtor, Ted Busch informed council that he was being required to not only construct a new sidewalk on a vacant lot he owns, but to relocate a burrowing owl nest prior to that construction. The cost out-of-pocket would be approximately $16,000. If and when Busch builds on his lot, the work that would be done would be destroyed.
Busch’s lot sits on a cul-de-sac where there is at least one other vacant lot with no existing sidewalk.
Code Enforcement had responded to a neighbor’s call about a fallen tree impacting their property. Busch remedied that issue, but was cited for the missing sidewalk, which is required under the city codes.
At the meeting it was explained that actions on items such as the sidewalk issue are “complaint driven,” meaning the city does not cite owners unless it is associated with some other violations, in an attempt to bring them into compliance.
Busch did find a sympathetic ear from councilors, touching off a wide-ranging discussion of the sense of some ordinances at the end of the meeting during council communications. Councilor Bob Brown commented that the existence of the regulation should either be enforced equally or be removed.
Councilor Charlette Roman, who had served on the Planning Board, explained that the city, in its infancy, sought to provide a safe environment for children and families to travel to schools, parks and playgrounds, while emphasizing the reasoning in the enforcement of those codes.
In a related issue, two years ago the Director of Public Works, Tim Pinter was cited when his daughter parked her car across a sidewalk in front of his house, following her late evening return from work. Ironically, the two lots on either side of him were vacant and no sidewalks existed on either of them.
Another issue discussed concerning sidewalks was introduced by Councilor Larry Honig. Honig had heard from constituents that one resident had taken it upon himself to identify sidewalks in need of repair, after he had been cited by Code Enforcement following a complaint and required to restore the sidewalk in front of his home. “Do we really want our citizens engaging in this type of activity?” said Honig.
Although council did not act immediately on Busch’s suggestion of a moratorium on enforcement of sidewalk requirements, they did agree to have Councilor Honig work with the city manager to bring back a list of suggested actions to deal with these items and any others that may be identified for appropriate action.