Marco residents outraged over hotel plans

Posted at 10:46 PM, Sep 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-06 22:57:12-04

MARCO ISLAND, Fla -- Some residents say it's not the project they're concerned about, but how it's being handled.

A proposed hotel, at the corner of North Collier Boulevard and Elkcam Circle would also include a parking garage and restaurant.

"The people who are paying for it, ought to have the opportunity to speak," said Bob Olson.

The issue brought Olson to speak in front of Marco Island City Council for the first time in two years.  He's outraged he wasn't given a heads up about a planning meeting for a hotel.

"Please let the citizens of this community understand and express themselves and listen to the citizens! Thank you," he told council.

Olson says the project would sit on taxpayer owned land, next to Veterans Community Park.

"They want to put a building plus a hundred feet from the ground level, and they wouldn't tell us how tall they wanted the building."
Small brothers, the developer of the project says in exchange for the building the hotel, they will pay for improvements to Veterans Community Park including a band shell, concession stands and boat dock.
But counsel for the developer, Patrick Neale, couldn't spill the beans on anymore details.
"They can only judge what is being presented, based on what is being presented to them at the hearing, so to communicate too much outside the hearing could prejudice the whole process."
But members of council feel the process isn't transparent enough.  Some were frustrated the conversation was shut down by the city attorney.
"As a city councilman, I will not be told in public that I cannot discuss an issue in public," said Councilman Larry Honig.
Neale insists plenty of notice was given about the planning meeting, which was held last Friday.
"There were publications in the newspaper, there were individual mailings sent out."
He says another public hearing on the matter will be held before the project moves forward.