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More details on proposed charter discussed at third Town Hall meeting

April 4, 2018
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

The third of four Town Hall meetings was held Thursday night at the Pine Island Community Church. The purpose of the meetings is to gather residents' feedback on the proposed charter for the proposed "Village of Matlacha/Pine Island." A completed charter and a feasibility study are required to begin the process voters will ultimately vote on.

Joe Mazurkiewicz, the president for BJM Consulting Inc., chaired the meeting of about 25 residents. BJM is a firm that specializes in local government activities. Mazurkiewicz served as mayor of Cape Coral from 1983 to 1993 before forming BJM Consulting.

"We need two things to move forward with the incorporation process," Mazurkiewicz said. "You'll need a feasibility study and a city charter. Tonight we're working on the third session of the charter that will involve the comp plan (Greater Pine Island Comprehensive Land Use Plan) and the budget."

The decision of the group was to include the "mention" of the Greater Pine Island Comprehensive Land Use Plan in the city charter to include all the "safeguards" already in the plan related to land use, also that it would take a majority of registered voters to make any changes to the Greater Pine Island Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

There was a question from the audience about whether Matlacha or Pine Island could incorporate by themselves. Mazurkiewicz stated that either could incorporate by themselves with the proper waivers.

"I was asked by the president of Greater Pine Island Civic Association to give them a proposal as to the cost to separate Pine Island," Mazurkiewicz said.

The criteria for incorporation are: the area has to be compact and contiguous (both Pine Island and Matlacha meet those criteria), you have to have 5,000 people (Pine Island meets that Matlacha does not), need a density of 1.5 people per acre (in all likelihood Matlacha meets that, Pine Island does not), must be 2 miles distance from nearest community (Matlacha would need a waiver from Cape Coral and Pine Island would not).

"Waivers would be necessary to overcome the criteria that are not met," Mazurkiewicz said.

Decisions made at the three Town Hall meetings are:

Issues confirmed: The form of government will be council/manager.

Issues to be included in proposed charter: Primary funding for capital improvements and maintenance will be by special assessments from improved properties based on a prorate share or taxable value.

Language to be included in preamble: Items of importance are land use, clean water and maintaining present lifestyle (quality of life). All submitted preamble language will be submitted to drafters for consideration.

FEMA: Concerns over the impact of incorporation on flood insurance will need to be studied further.

Council makeup: Number of council members 7-member hybrid with 5 members elected from single-member districts and 2 members elected at large.

Ombudsmen: Each district must establish a community association which, in addition to whatever local business they may choose to pursue, will have standing under this charter for the following purpose: In the event that district is not represented by an elected council member, appoint a resident of that district, meeting the eligibility requirements in Sec. 2, to serve as ombudsman. The concept was discussed and decided to not get further consideration.

Separate and joint referendum: Neither the people of Matlacha nor the people of Pine Island wish to impose a new government on the other without their consent.

Therefore, this charter shall take effect, if and only if, approved by a majority of those qualified electors residing in Matlacha AND a majority of those qualified electors residing in Pine Island. Failure of this charter to attain a majority of such qualified electors in either island will mean that this charter shall not take effect.

The concept was rejected

Land use in charter: Comp plan will be included in charter with reference to existing Pine Island Plan with dates and will only be able to be changed by referendum of the registered voters

Ordinance adoption process: It was proposed that all ordinances would be adopted only after a period of time to allow for citizens to petition for a referendum vote to confirm support. This will be discussed further at the next meeting. The concept was discussed and rejected.

Council meetings: City council will meet at least once a month for a minimum total of 12 meetings per year.

City manager: Will reside in city once selected and remain during term. All staff will be hired by the city council and/or manager, none will be elected.

Debt: Any long-term debt (over 5 years) will only be allowed with approval from the voters by referendum.

Budget: The budget will be adopted in compliance with Florida law.

City staff: The original draft feasibility study included 5 employees, presently only 3. This should be reconsidered in next draft of the study.

Changes to charter: Charter changes, initiatives and recall petitions will need 5 percent or 10 percent signatures of registered voters. All will be approved by 50 percent plus one, or 60 percent of those voting in the election.

Draft documents on the incorporation - including the draft charter - are available on the website. Look for them under the INCORPORATION tab on the Menu Bar.

All meetings are free and open to all members of the public. You do not need to be a GPICA member to attend the meeting or to make suggestions about revisions to the existing draft charter. We respectfully request that all forum attendees practice common courtesy and please allow your neighbors an opportunity to speak and to share your input in a respectful and calm manner.

If you cannot attend or do not wish to attend the meetings, comments about the draft charter may be made online at

The final Town Hall meeting is Thursday, April 5, at 6:30 p.m., at the Pine Island Community Church, 5320 Doug Taylor Circle - Unit #7. That's located in the Industrial Park, east of the SunTrust Bank.



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