The consulting team reviewing the city’s Comprehensive Plan for an update to submit to the State of Florida held a “town-hall meeting” on Saturday, December 12, with residents to discuss some of the issues that will be included within their “view” of the community and what future growth might look like during the next decade. The focus issues dealt with transportation, parks and recreation, and future land use.
Under state law, a municipality or county must update its plans every decade, recognizing the probability of a changing marketplace and the need to be able to react to those changes to ensure a community is capable of addressing those needs.
Attendees were able to provide written comments on the topics being discussed, and more open forums are being planned to acquire additional public input.
At the last city council meeting, the FGCU team that presently holds the contract to create the proposed document was questioned as to where some of the more controversial assumptions had originated.
Dr. Margaret Banyan, who heads the team, responded to questioning from Dr. Richard Blonna, one of the four newly seated City Councilors, who probed Dr. Banyan as to the sourcing of those conclusions.
Some of the issues troubling Dr. Blonna dealt with data assumptions. “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.”
“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. At the town hall on Saturday, that line of questioning initiated by Dr. Blonna was continued by The Coastal Breeze News Staff (CBN).
CBN: “Where did you come up with that data which Dr. Blonna was quoting? Did you just come up with a statistical average of a nationwide poll or have you actually done research here on Marco?”
Dr. Banyan: That comes from the Shimberg Center for Housing Studies.
CBN: But that comes from a statistical study from nationwide polling, doesn’t it? It wasn’t specific to this area, was it?”
Dr. Banyan: “It was specific to Marco. You can see it online.”
CBN: “So if I contact them directly, they will confirm this. Where did they drag it from?”
Dr. Banyan: “They have a specific methodology which they use. They derive information from census data and the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.”
CBN: “So specifically it wasn’t a hands-on review on Marco.”
Dr. Banyan: “That’s correct.”
Dr. Banyan did confirm that she had indeed read the Strategic Plan and understood that residents did not have a desire to see an increase in density and intensity. “Yes, we have been receiving that feedback.”
To provide for appropriate distancing, the meeting was done in two one-hour segments to allow for smaller groups and spacing of participants under the covered outdoor recreational facility behind Mackle Park.
The issue of the impact of rental housing in single family home neighborhoods was also brought up in both segments of the presentation and questioning.