Let’s check in with Islamorada

August 17 – It’s certainly a busy time in Islamorada and Mark Gregg, Islamorada Village Councilmember, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to discuss the happenings in the village.

Building permits continue to be a discussion item in Islamorada.

Gregg explained, “This is all being driven by the fact that Islamorada has a limited number of building permits left. My memory is not perfect, but I was going to say somewhere around 22, I think, are going to be available and that means only 11 will be issued in the year 2023. That’s the market rate category and when those are issued, then that’s it.”

There are some administrative permits to give out based upon a special set of rules or whether or not someone makes a claim.

The Village is shifting from the 2020 building permit plan, which came out in 2002 – it’s now at maturity – and moving from building development to building redevelopment because new development in essence is over.

Gregg said, “The Transferable Development Rights are basically building permit rights that are derived from a building that has already been issued a permit, but has been demolished or removed for some reason and because of various factors, someone may want to move that to another site. So we’re not increasing the amount of development in Islamorada, we’re just rearranging how it occurs.”

The rules for all that can get a little tricky.

Gregg said, “We have to balance keeping our economy vibrant and going and respecting property rights with our natural resources and just natural limitations. We can only fit so many people here.”

Hearings and workshops continue to keep residents informed during the changeover.

Both Islamorada and Marathon are involved in litigation for the Rate of Growth Ordinance permits. While commissioners can’t really talk about pending litigation, Gregg said the situation is moving forward.

The voters will take a look at increasing the salaries of council members in Islamorada on the ballot in November.

Gregg said, “My thought was that currently the council is paid $1,000 a month. That really only allows somebody who’s relatively well-off financially to be able to afford to do that. My thought was if we increased that sum, it might attract more candidates who might come from if you have a job and you’re working or you own your own business and you have to take off time to serve on the council, you shouldn’t suffer a financial penalty for doing that. So that was one of the reasons for doing it and to just broaden the base of people who might be attracted to run for council. That was really it. It’s about a 25 or 30 hour a week job. It’s not worth it if you’re trying to make a living from it. You do it because you love it. That’s why I do it. Hopefully we’ll get some more people here. Some younger people, especially. Right now we have five men. I would like to see some women at some point.”

The process works like this: the council passes an ordinance to increase the salaries of the Village Council for the next term. It will not be done this term.

Gregg said, “We are not giving ourselves a raise.”

Despite passing the ordinance, it actually goes up on the ballot to let the voters have the final decision in November. If the voters say yes, the salaries of Village Council Members will go from $1,000 to $2,000.

Gregg said, “I hope people stay involved in the political process, pay attention and vote.”