It’s time to look forward to 2023 in Marathon

After a look back at 2022, it’s time to grab the wheel for 2023.

George Garrett, City Manager in Marathon, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s been going on in the city.

Marathon will have a City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday.

One item on the agenda will be building permit fees.

Garrett said, “It’s kind of an interesting conundrum because we have had a couple of years in the past two years I think it was a building boom that occurred kind of in the middle of COVID, but coming out of COVID and into this year and we’ve essentially made money. At the end of the day, legally, legislatively building departments can do no more than essentially cover their costs.”

Council might take a look at how to alter their building permits to meet the current interests. They could be lowered.

Garrett said, “We just got a larger volume than we anticipated. We worked harder to get it done, which meant we didn’t hire any additional people to cover it and then as we look forward, what is our realistic fee structure going to look like then?”

An outside company is looking at the fee structure.

Another item on the agenda is the 7 Mile Marina. The city purchased the business a little more than a year ago.

Garrett said, “We purchased that with the thought that that makes a good land base for a number of things. I think within the next month for sure, we will have Pigeon Key land based at the old 7 Mile Marina. That’s very cool. Looking forward to that.”

There will also be some planning items as well.

In 2018, the city purchased the Quay Property and redevelopment will be another discussion on Tuesday.

Garrett said, “It’ll be a park. We have an item on the agenda to look seriously at how we’re going to make improvements there. Not the least of which is making some safety improvements. Ultimately to create a nice park setting. It’ll be a great entry into the City of Marathon.”

City council will also look at approving a resolution and settlement agreement between the city, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and Boat Works Investments concerning the transferring of permits for liveaboards to buildings on land.

Garrett said, “I think the settlement indicates or should indicate to the public I think that we were generally in the right. Hopefully with this settlement agreement, Boat Works will move on with the other portions of that development that they anticipated originally. I think that’s fantastic. It allows us to be in a better position with the Department of Economic Opportunity coming into 2023.”

The Rate of Growth Ordinance building permits are still tied up in the courts.

Garrett said, “Whether it’s 300 units for the city of Marathon, whether it’s 1,300 units for the Keys overall, the interesting thing about that is because of the way that our area of critical state concern components of chapter 380 worked, we aren’t allowed to use the 300 units based on the opinion of the third district court of appeals and yet because of a different wording in Key West, they are. That’s kind of an interesting dynamic because when you look at the purposes for any question in the first place, it’s about hurricane evacuation. If you’ve got to evacuate, it’s further to evacuate from Key West than it is from anywhere up the Keys. It’s a dilemma and it’s one we’re working on. We’re even working with the City of Key West a little bit. The real issue there is the fact that we’ve got an affordable housing crisis. It’s an outright crisis and we all understand that.”

On Tuesday, January 24, at 5:30 p.m. there will be a City Council workshop for vacation rentals.

Garrett reminded, “A workshop is something where the council really doesn’t have a chance to vote. This is a newly seated city council. It’s going to give us the opportunity to bring it back in front of the city council. We just don’t want to lose the vacation rental ordinance that works for us now in favor of having the Department of Business and Professional Regulations run this from an office in Miami. It’s just important to keep it.”

The tax collector will be on hand at the workshop as well as the fire service.

Garrett said, “We really are looking forward to a wonderful year in what’s happening in the City of Marathon. The other things that obviously are in front of everybody right now, over and above affordable housing crisis, is the migrant issues. It is a humanitarian crisis. It’s one that at the end of the day is just swamping the resources of law enforcement who ends up having to deal with it. Big, big issue and it’s certainly one of the ones we’re going to have to deal with this coming year.”

For next Tuesday’s agenda, click here: