NOV/DEC 2021 NEWSLETTER
Posted by Greg Folley 5sc on December 27, 2021
FROM THE DESK OF VICE CHAIR GREG FOLLEY
Friends & Supporters, Our final two meetings of the year were held on Monday, December 6. In the morning, Council convened as the Zoning Board of Appeals to hear an appeal from the Planning Board’s denial of a request for a 10-foot dock extension at 986 Sundrop Court. Thereafter, Council held its final regularly scheduled meeting. Among the issues dealt with in the latter meeting was the second reading of an ordinance implementing the latest contract with the Fraternal Order of Police, and approval of funding for a long-awaited parking and resurfacing project on Durnford Way, behind many of the restaurants and shops on Collier Boulevard.
Zoning Appeal Council heard an appeal from a decision of the Planning Board denying a 10-foot dock extension at 986 Sundrop Court, an extension requested to accommodate a 130-foot-long yacht which will be situated wholly on the property line in front of the property on the Marco River. Lawyers for the property owner and for neighbors opposed to the extension presented arguments and witnesses addressing both sides of this issue, and did an excellent job illuminating the issues involved. The hearing itself lasted nearly three hours, and hundreds of pages of documentation were submitted for review by the parties and city staff in this matter. Ultimately, it became clear to me and my colleagues that the yacht itself would be allowed without the dock extension under existing rules, as the new layout for mooring the yacht provides a greater set off from existing properties than do the currently existing docks. The only issue was whether the dock could be extended an additional 10 feet into the river to enable the effective mooring of the yacht. Under the criteria specified under existing ordinances for considering such requests, which included the width of the waterway, minimization of impact on neighbors’ views to the channel, safety and the uniqueness of the property, we unanimously concluded that the 10-foot extension into a channel of the Marco River that is over 2,000 feet wide is appropriate under existing law (consistent with the recommendations of city staff), and the request was approved. This was a difficult case and required us to consider the property rights of both the property owner of the subject property as well as neighbors whose views would be affected by the presence of the yacht. Importantly, the sole reason the owner of the subject property bought it was to enable the docking of his yacht at that location, and denial of the request would essentially preclude the owner from using the property for its intended purpose. Neighbors showed that their views would be impacted to some degree, but in most cases direct views to the channel under Florida riparian rules will not be significantly impaired. I believe we made the correct decision, but certainly understand the concerns and impacts of everyone concerned.
Ordinance Changes to Implement Police Pension Changes In my last update, I summarized changes negotiated with the police union to assure the long-term solvency and affordability of the pension plan, including changes reducing cost of living increases, increasing normal retirement age and employee contributions. At our December 6 meeting, we gave final approval to changes effectuating these savings, and reviewed an actuarial report summarizing the financial impact of these changes. Overall, the new agreement reduces the contributions that the city must make to fund the pension by nearly 10 percent immediately and assures that liabilities do not grow to unmanageable and unaffordable levels in the future as our officers in this relatively young plan gain seniority and move into retirement. For the taxpayers of the island, and for our officers whose pension plan is now more secure, this is a major achievement.
Durnford Way Parking and Stormwater Project Finally, Council considered and approved a contract with low bidder Coastal Concrete Products LLC for $978,657.30 to complete a proposal made several years ago by the Ad Hoc Parking Committee to clean up the broken down and often flooded alleyway between Saturn Court and Amazon Court. Work will include resurfacing, the construction of 40 parallel parking spaces, stormwater drainage systems and security fencing along the alley property line to provide a buffer for residents of adjacent properties. This project is much needed to rejuvenate a very unsightly but busy part of our city, and I am pleased that we are getting this work underway.
New Interchange Work Can Begin I-75 Interchange Pulled Forward. Lastly, as readers may recall, I serve as the Marco Island representative on the Collier County Metropolitan Planning Organization, which does infrastructure planning for our county. At a recent meeting the MPO agreed to the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) request to advance the redesign and rebuild of the interchange of I-75 and Collier Boulevard from FY2025 to FY2022. This means work on the design and construction of the new interchange can begin next year instead of three years later, as had previously been planned. Funding for this project became available to Florida and was prioritized by FDOT from stimulus money provided by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), which passed on a party-line vote with no Republicans in support. While I believe ARPA was and is a colossal waste of taxpayer money, the bill has been passed and the money has been made available to the State of Florida, and through the State, to Collier County. The amount granted for the project is in excess of $80 million dollars, and my colleagues on the MPO unanimously agreed to modify the 2022-2026 Transportation Improvement Program for the county. I chose to support using these funds to do something which needs to be done by the government and is in fact productive—a type of spending which, sadly, I believe, will represent only a small portion of all the federal dollars to be spent on this massive federal boondoggle. As a practical matter, this means that design of the new interchange can begin quite soon, and construction can begin after the design phase is completed, probably sometime in the next 12-18 months. This is good news, as any driver can see how poorly designed and dangerous the current Collier Boulevard- I-75 interchange is, and Collier County drivers will be safer and our driving experiences more efficient as a result. This concludes the December update. We have two meetings in January and I will be in touch with updates next year. Thanks again for your continued support! Please like and follow my Facebook page for the latest updates. Take care and God bless!
Sincerely, Greg S. Folley 940 Cape Marco Dr, Unit 2006 Marco Island, FL 34145