MARATHON -- The partitioning of some housing units is wreaking havoc in a few neighborhoods here, local officials say, particularly as recreational vehicles and trailers -- usually serving as affordable housing in the Florida Keys -- are being split into two and three separate units.
A proposed ordinance aiming to curtail the practice received the most community input at the Marathon City Council meeting Nov. 12 and was referred back to the city's planning commission for additional public participation.
Soon after the ordinance was introduced by Planning Director George Garrett, citizens who were signed up to speak took issue with the modification of the definition of dwelling unit.
James Stewart said he owns an RV in Keys RV Park and follows the spirit of the current law. He objected to new wording requiring seasonal residents to relocate their RVs and proposed an alternative using a state definition of temporary seasonal living quarters to exempt them from compliance.
Attorney Frank Greenman agreed with Stewart. He also wondered aloud how the proposed ordinance, as written, would affect vacation rentals, dormitories and homes with outside kitchens, saying the proposed law is overly broad.
But Carolyn Arsenault said something must be done about RVs at Keys RV Park being split up into as many as three units. She said sometimes there is one entrance, but a room and a hot plate constitute a unit, and a trailer may have up to three units. Arsenault said tenants often share a single bathroom, and when it is occupied, they occasionally relieve themselves outside. She said there's a need to address transient units that "grow roots" and are separated into more than one unit.
Marathon staff agreed to notify vacation rental owners and Realtors of any scheduled discussion by the planning commission in order to garner maximum public input on the issue.
The City Council also passed an ordinance amending a zoning map for a lot in the Seacrest Subdivision and a resolution to award contracts to three companies for various wastewater chemicals for continuing operation of the city's sewage treatment facilities.
The opening of the meeting welcomed newly-elected Mark Senmartin to the council, as he took the oath of office and said it was a privilege to join the council. Richard Keating also took the oath for his third and final consecutive term in office and said he looked forward to Marathon's bright future.
Councilman Chris Bull nominated Dick Ramsay for mayor, noting it was Ramsay's last year of three two-year terms in office, and the approval was unanimous. Bull was elected vice mayor on Keating's nomination.
Ramsay concluded the meeting with an observation that the voters in Marathon want to move forward in a positive manner with more equitable treatment and fuller participation.