The Village of Islamorada works hard to help residents

Since Hurricane Ian hit, the Village of Islamorada has been assisting its citizens.

Mark Gregg, the Village of Islamorada Council Member, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM to talk about what’s been going on in the village.

A lot of water came with the hurricane this time around.

Gregg said, “I had a fortunate or unfortunate front row view. My home looks out over the ocean. We have a boat basin behind my house, so I watched the water come up and the tide coincided with a small storm surge, so we had a little bit of flooding and a bit of a seaweed mess. That’s nothing compared to what we’ve had in the past. I live on Plantation Key, which has relatively high elevation on average. There is a boat ramp next to my home that does flood and once the water comes up over the threshold, the wind pushes it up the street and there’s some older, ground-level homes that sometimes can flood. We used sandbags to try to mitigate that.”

Village staff was incredibly busy coordinating efforts with the county around the clock to deal with the storm and emergency services.

Gregg said, “I was very, very proud to see that going on and I’m also very, very happy that they didn’t have to pull that trigger and do anything serious. I want your listeners to know they were in very good hands even though you really didn’t see anything on the outside, they were very busy behind the scenes and we were getting hourly reports about what was going on and the status of things and surge level reports and warnings. I felt very comfortable, very well-informed, that our local governments and even our state and federal governments were involved and were looking out after us.”

While the upper Keys wasn’t hit as hard as Key West was, rising waters did affect some homes.

Gregg said, “I did see one video of a lone house that was standing, I believe it was on Sanibel. It looked like a typical house here in the Keys. It was built up on pilings. It had a concrete construction, metal roof and it was very well built. It looked like it was hardly scratched. To me, that was a great commercial for folks who live here to build your house strong. Go over the codes. Remember the code requirements allow you to build the worst house the law will allow, so there’s no reason you have to stick with the lowest standard. Going over that really paid off for that particular homeowner. For those who are going to make repairs or improvements here to your home or addition, that’s the way to go.”

The Rate of Growth Ordinance (ROGO) housing will be discussed at Thursday night’s Village Council meeting.

Gregg said, “Our attorney is going to bring that to us and we’re going to talk about what we’re going to do as far as the next step. One option of course is to take this appeal to the next highest level, which is the Florida Supreme Court and we’ll evaluate the merits to that. We also have an option at least in my interpretation is the way the appellate opinion was written is that if we change some of the language in our comprehensive plan to be consistent with state law, then we should be able to use those. It’s very important to know that we didn’t lose the 300 unit allocation. We still have them. Islamorada still owns them, but the way the code was written in the comp plan, we weren’t able to legally use them as the appellate court said. It’s a fixable problem in my view. I don’t know how to fix it just yet. It’s very technical, but hopefully we’ll have a discussion on that and determine how to go forward there.”

One item on Thursday night’s agenda is an ordinance for a smoking ban and an ordinance to expand the swim zone located off of the bay side on Lower Matecumbe Key, near White Marlin Beach and Port Antigua.

Gregg said, “I would expect that those two would go forward. The smoking ban was a new item that was made possible by some recent changes in state law that allows local governments to impose smoking bans on government owned property. The ordinance that we adopted is very similar if not identical to ones adopted in other communities. It just makes good sense. It’s good for the health of our residents. It’s good for the environment to keep cigarette butts out of the water and out of the environment. The swim zone thing is kind of a fix. We had sort of a saw-tooth line across the shore where one particular section of a neighborhood was left out of the swim zone protection at their request and since that was done a couple years ago they’ve learned that that has now become sort of the hole in the donut where a lot of boat traffic and unwanted activity occurs. So they’ve asked for protection to be included within the protection zone.”

The Islamorada Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a candidate forum tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. It will be broadcast on channel 77. There are 14 candidates for five seats.