City attorneys at the planning board meeting expressed their concern regarding the on-the-fly interpretation to the building issues and density considerations. Citizens seem to think that
the master plan is devoid of any covenant that checks developments. A city council member expressed his cynical disdain for citizens’ efforts to curtail density by 4% as being dishonest and amounting only to lip service. The same council member does not know what the 4% means while the debate rages on as to what rights apply to whom. Namely, can the city allow any development for the good of the community or is there a permanent, inalienable
right of property owners to do whatever they please based on how the property was zoned when it was purchased. The chairperson of the planning committee addresses the council with concerns on how long term designs are being overridden willy-nilly by the committee without reconsideration by engineers.
And then of course there is Amerikapitalism. Yes, it too has infested Marco Island. Greed is good under the ruse that what is good for business is good for the community. For those 8 people that continue to believe this hoax, may they live out the rest of their life in oblivious peace by not coming across any information on Enron, Viacom, Tyco, WorldCom, Arthur Anderson and the wonders of Al Dunlap’s “Profit at Any Price” business model. And here? A council member is the real estate industry. A pizza parlor makes a petition to make last minute changes to a huge engineering project just so it and its business neighbors can purportedly be better accessed by … ready for this one … by the citizens that would otherwise jaywalk. The petition prevails despite every citizen and the planning board opposing the change. The fact that the businesses wanting to make the change never attended a planning meeting is irrelevant. A hotel chain argues over density by calling whatever it is they are planning to build whatever it needs to be called so that the planning board can somehow apply the “voodoo” – yes, that was the word that was used – of the density algorithm since a condo is considered differently than a hotel suite which is considered differently than a timeshare which is considered differently than a “vacation unit” – whatever that means. A “hospice” business wants to do its civic duty by proposing to build a hospice facility on property deeded for a hospital. Very nice – except that the majority of the units are for “unassisted” living – predominantly for their workers. And the list goes on and on and on.
As one polite citizen eloquently stated while addressing the city council, “Marco Island – Commercial Enterprise; Business Over Citizens”. Amerikapitalism.
Consider that unbridled development is antithetical to the notion of a community. Lest anyone doubt this fact look no further than 90 miles to the east. A community is made up of PEOPLE and their families and their relations – and is NOT made up of its businesses. Marco Island is unique in this respect – where else can so many young children be blessed by growing up in such close proximity to their grandparents and their friends? Considering the pathetic record and promise of our public school systems (with the possible exception of TB as a good though not great school), where better can our children learn about their culture and their family history and their traditions than from the “older” generation? Not from chat rooms or cell phones or schools or eating at the local pizza joint or renting a whatever-its-called-room from a hotel chain – that’s for sure.
Growth for greed will kill this community as sure as it did Miami and scores of other “communities”. We can not afford the problems associated with congestion, limited infrastructure, and the associative problems given that the direct consequence of these avoidable ills is the moral and financial expulsion of the people that make up the community. We are even fighting amongst ourselves in the Tartarus that is the legal system in part because some citizens believe that the sewage treatment plant will not be able to handle the sewage that will flow from the new sewer systems that are being put in place in part to handle the … growth.
Is anyone comfortable with how growth is managed? Clearly not. When it comes to growth, the few nice people on the council appear to be a hagiarchy. The other members are clearly a corpocracy. The city council is not only “uncomfortable” – their words – with the density/growth issue, heck, they don’t even understand it. How is it possible to manage something you don’t understand? You can’t.
With no clear vision of where we are headed, or how even to get there, we are doomed to fight amongst ourselves all the while the commercialization of our area rolls on unabated.
Let’s stop this farce. Let’s stop selling out our community. Let’s get a handle on what density means. Lets know what are the near and long term ramifications of ANY business and commercial growth. Let the planning board and the staff and the citizens and the lawyers and the good folks at MICA – and yes even the businesses – come together to formulate a near and long term strategy. A strategy that is effectuated via a clear plan. A plan that is understood even by the most cynical and by the most ardent profiteers.
We can preserve a community. The community can prosper. Those are the first mandates of a society. Businesses can too survive – within the will of the community. Yes, for those council members that don’t yet understand eminent domain and the interplay of city ordinances, it is the will of the citizens of a republic that dictate what can or can not happen. If that were not the case, brothels and strip joints and adult stores would be next to every … pizza parlor.
Marco Island needs to seriously consider a temporary moratorium on development. Any independent, citizen-oriented leader up to the challenge?