By Steve ‘Stef’ Stefanides
Unless the Marco City Council overrides the recommendation of the newly organized Planning Board, the project which was known as the Tropical Palms Recovery Center, LLC will not be moving forward anytime soon. The center would have provided treatment for those seeking substance abuse treatment in a private clinic, to be paid for by themselves or by insurance.
Newly elected chair of the board, Erik Brechnitz polled his fellow board members and the item concerning the approval of a Conditional Use Permit for the operation of that facility was moved to front of the line for consideration on Friday’s meeting.
The atmosphere in the room was clearly palpable as the hearing begin, from both the dais and the public attending the meeting. Uncertainty, fear, concern and compatibility with the island where the common treads which ran through the questioning and testimony at the meeting on Friday.
Newly seated board member Joseph Rola even questioned whether the petition would even fall under the definition of a use allowed by the Conditional Use clause within the Land Development Code of the city on several occasions. “We don’t have this Drug/Alcohol Rehabilitation Use in our code; it doesn’t exist there.”
Board member Frank Mulligan brought up the objections from the Fire Marshall for the city which saw the 3rd floor occupancy by patients prohibited. The petitioner was requesting beds which would accommodate up to 30 patients. “This isn’t allowed under the previous documentation approved by the city,” said Mulligan.
Questions regarding the clientele that would utilize the facility and their backgrounds were a constant focus of questioning by board members. Sean Moore, the petitioner and project developer attempted on several occasions to dispel the fears of the public and board members, but to no apparent avail, as the board would vote 5-2 to deny the petition.
The boards’ recommendation will now be forwarded to the city council. They in turn will act as the final arbitrator in the request for a Conditional Use should the petitioner not withdraw his request.
New Planning Board Dives Right In
By Steve “Stef” Stefanides
As four new members take their seats on the Marco Island Planning Board on Friday, February 3rd, they will face a full agenda of items, not the least of which is a controversial proposal to re-purpose the building at 218 South Barfield Drive into residential drug and alcohol facility.
The building which had previously housed the Sanitasole Adult Day Care and Memory Care facility has sat vacant for the last two years and has been the focus of much speculation over the last 18 months as it sat with the doors blocked.
The facility was owned and run by Richard and Paula Robinson (Camposano) and the property was held under the name of Triad Real Estate Investors until late 2016 when that corporate entity was administratively dissolved for failure to file their 2016 Annual Report with the State of Florida. The last such report was filed on January 20, 2015; they are no longer the owners of the property.
The Isle of Palms Recovery Center, which is listed as the petitioner for the conditional use application filed as a corporate entity within the State of Florida early in September of 2016. The registered agent is listed with an address in Hideaway Beach with the State of Florida, as well as managing agent for the LLC. He also shows an address in Plain City, Ohio as the LLC’s primary address.
Isle of Palms Recovery is proposing to operate a private substance abuse facility, which will have patients who come to them under their own accord to seek assistance overcoming addiction issues. “Those that will be treated at the Marco Island facility are professionals with private insurance and are choosing to come to us under their own free will,” said Robert Mulhere, acting as spokesman for the petitioner. He went on to explain that this would not be a facility taking in “court ordered incarcerations.”
“The demographic that we draw from is a very affluent group that often come to us from the East Coast of the United States in an attempt to seek treatment in the most discreet way possible,” said Mulhere.
The paperwork filed with the Growth Management Department indicates a desire to provide a facility which would accommodate 25-30 individuals. Such a facility is allowed by right within C-3 Zoning under Conditional Use provisions. However, there are some concerns regarding the number of patients, as the previous operation only cared for ten (10) clients in the assisted living facility.
The Sanitasole operation was seen as a state-of-the-art facility which serviced a growing need for “adult day care,” and would eventually also provide additional care for a more focused clientele.
The board will also hear requests for three boat dock extensions in addition to a discussion on the recently passed State Constitution Medical Marijuana Amendment and how best to deal with that beyond the legislation already passed in 2013 by the then city council which put limitations on the dispensing of that product.
The Planning Board will convene on Friday, February 3rd at 9 AM in council chambers at 51 Bald Eagle Drive.