August 13, 2003 - Marco Island Eagle: Philippines RPCV Greg Niles hopes to get approval on comp plan vote from Planning Board

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By Admin1 (admin) on Wednesday, August 13, 2003 - 2:50 pm: Edit Post

Philippines RPCV Greg Niles hopes to get approval on comp plan vote from Planning Board



Philippines RPCV Greg Niles hopes to get approval on comp plan vote from Planning Board

Niles hopes to get approval on comp plan vote from Planning Board

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

By I.M. Stackel, Staff Writer

Marco Island, Florida - A comprehensive land use plan is a planner's crowning achievement, much as a novel is for a writer.

Comp plan amendments are like revisions, refinements that are incorporated long after the broad strokes of the story line have been committed to the page.

And like most cities around the state, Marco Island's comp plan will likely be a never-ending story.

Community Development Director Greg Niles has more than a handful of amendments that are scheduled for local discussion and approval within the next few months, before the plan is sent back up to the state Department of Community Affairs for a final OK.

But Niles, 40, has been here long enough to see the difference between planning theory and development reality. And he had amassed a good variety of planning experience before he arrived in Southwest Florida with his wife and three young sons.



Niles spent two years in the Philippines with the Peace Corps as a water and sanitation specialist, analyzing and perfecting operating systems.

From there, he went to Cooperstown, N.Y., as a planner.

Niles got his master's degree in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina.

Niles arrived on the island in May 1998, nine months after Marco incorporated, replacing Max Forgey, a former Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council planner who had spent just two months on the job.

City Manager Bill Moss, who held the same job at North Myrtle Beach, S.C., brought Niles over. Niles had been the principal planner.

Noting that there have been a number of changes in land use in the past two years, Niles opted to "bring a sense of reality to the built environment."

Marco's initial comp plan was approved in January 2001. The first set of comp plan amendments are ready to be reviewed by Marco's Planning Board at the Aug. 22 meeting.

Cities usually don't have to revise and update comp plans a scant 30 months after the initial document has been approved.

But Marco Island is small, and its developers are ambitious.

What Niles has done, in effect, is calibrate Marco's inventory of lots, zones, land uses and rules, so they carefully and accurately reflect actions City Council members have taken over the course of the past few years.

The analysis resulted in five policy statements that somewhat differ from what appears in the existing plan.

Existing policies that were tied to a completed task have been deleted, Niles said. Other policies have been amended to reflect a new benchmark, or to set a new target date, he said. A number of the proposed amendments exist to reflect actions that already have occurred, Niles said.

"It's done. Let's give it its true appropriation," Niles said Aug. 6.

The policy changes match the following future land use adjustments made over the past two years.

* Changing the Marco Island Marriott Resort designation from resort residential to planned unit development, as approved by council members in 2001.

* Changing the West Elkcam district from "town center/mixed use" to "high density residential." Niles said the change reflects the current built-out environment, complements area use restrictions, and recognizes the true existing density of 16 units per acre as opposed to 12 units per acre.

* Changes the Dale Glon property measuring 6 3/4 acres from "town center/ mixed use" to planned unit development, as approved by council members in 2001.

* Changes Hartley Avenue/ Tallwood Street from "town center/mixed use" to "high density residential" to reflect what the section really is. Like the West Elkcam district, the change will allow for a density of 16 units per acre as opposed to 12 units.

* Changes the city hall complex from "community commercial" to "community facility."

* Changes the Moran's Barge site from "preservation/ conservation" to "community commercial."

Niles also re-catalogued city density by acreage and zone, showing, for instance, that Marco could ultimately have 2,022 units in the three "resort/residential" zones.

He arrived at that number by calculating that in the city's 37 hotel/motel acres, developers can build up to 26 acres per unit, creating 962 units. In the 60 multifamily dwelling zones, which allows up to 16 units per acre, Marco could end up with 1,060 resort/residential units.

Copies of the proposed amendments are available at City Hall. The Planning Board will meet an hour earlier, at 8 a.m. Friday, Aug. 22, to address comp plan changes.



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Story Source: Marco Island Eagle

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Philippines; City Planning; Conservation

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