Battle over noise on Marco Island

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Some Marco Island homeowners have become so annoyed with people on vacation that they’re taking matters into their own hands.

Marco Island’s city manager believes there’s a lot of noise over the city’s short-term rental ordinance. But the statistics don’t match people’s apparent frustration. And the city manager is firm in his belief that Marco Island will always be both a great place to live and an excellent spot to take a vacation.

Nobody likes loud neighbors, and in Marco Island, they have an ordinance for that reason. Realator Maria Schilke, who has lived on the island for 40 years, says the rules don’t apply to everyone.

“As an owner, I can make as much noise as I want to, but my neighbor across the street that rents his house, his tenants can’t. It’s… there are two sets of rules. One for homeowners and one for tenants,” Schilke said.

Marco Island’s Vacation Rental Ordinance says people renting their homes out for less than 30 days at a time must register with the city. And among the other rules, there is another detail. Nobody in a vacation rental can make noise that can be heard within 50 feet of the home during the day and 25 feet at night.

Martin Winter rents his home, and he went before the Marco City Council in March and played two videos explaining how unfair the ordinance is to his guests. One video shows neighbors playing really loud music while the other shows somebody yelling. Both noises came from a homeowner who is also a permanent resident next door. Winter said that person wanted to annoy the family vacationing at his short-term rental.

“When you come over the bridge, it says welcome to the city of Marco Island. It is not an HOA; it is not a retirement community. We do have some elderly population in the demographic, and that is fine, but they have to realize that it is a city that we live in, and lots are close together, and that is part of city life,” Winter said.

City Manager Mike McNees told WINK News the issue comes from people who oppose the short-term rental ordinance.

“There’s certainly a lot of noise being made about the issue. But as far as real noise violations or complaints regarding noise violations, no, we’re not really having that big an issue,” McNees said.

But McNees also said the ordinance will be evaluated and if the city decides changes must be made, changes will be made.

“The ordinance is in place, it will run, and then we’ll take a look at it and say, okay, how’s it serving us? How’s it not serving us, and whatever changes need to be made will be made,” McNees said.

In March, the city put in place a hotline specifically for short-term rental noise complaints. So far, only one call has been made.

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