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Planning Commission gives OK to West Gulf Drive home plans

By Staff | Feb 12, 2009

The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing at its meeting Tuesday concerning a Development Permit application to construct a single-family dwelling with an attached elevated swimming pool and deck on West Gulf Drive.

The hearing caused many in attendance to recall the development permit application of the same type submitted by Chateaux Sur Mer property owners David and Nora Mimms, which generated considerable controversy among neighbors and other island residents last year. The Mimms’ home design came under public scrutiny because Mimms requested an elevated swimming pool.

With the home plans in full public view, neighbors took notice of and objected publicly to several of the planned home’s features, including its size and design. It took more than a year and several re-designs before the Planning Commission granted their approval for the construction of the home. Mimms has since placed his property, and the approved building plans, up for sale.

However, Tuesday’s review and public hearing went off without a hitch. City Planner Jim Jordan provided the Planning Commission with a detailed presentation of the home’s plans, and demonstrated how those plans conformed to the rhythm and harmony requirements of the much-discussed Land Development Code Section 86-43.

The Development Permit application proposes the construction of a two-story Mediterranean-style residence on the waterfront lot, with an attached elevated swimming pool located at the rear of the house, and an entry courtyard located at the front of the house.

The application also calls for the installation of additional vegetation to reinforce the heavy landscape vista that is characteristic of the neighborhood.

“The neighborhood has a mixture of at-grade homes, homes that have been expanded or added onto, one- and two-story homes, transitioning to newer homes that are much larger, and similar to the home proposed in this application,” said Jordan. “Planning Department staff recommends approval.”

Planning Commission Vice Chairman Dr. Philip Marks expressed concern over the 10-foot buffer between the structure and the property’s edge, stating that the addition of air conditioning and pool equipment may disturb neighbors with their noise levels at so close a distance. However, it was quickly pointed out that a 10-foot buffer is in compliance with existing codes, and that other homes in the neighborhood also have this same 10-foot buffer.

Home designer John Carsi of Palladian Design Studio told the Commission that he walked the neighborhood with property owners John and Joyce Reynolds to collect design ideas from existing homes.

“The owners like the Mediterranean, Italian style,” said Carsi. “And we’ve learned a lot, like reducing the visual impact of a monumental staircase going to the first floor area, reducing the feel of the large home.”

Without much discussion from Commissioners or the public, the Development Permit application was approved as submitted.

“Again, I want to congratulate staff for the thoroughness of the report,” said Chairman Michael Valiquette.

The measure will be brought back to the Planning Commission in the form of a resolution at their next meeting on Feb. 24.

In other business

The Planning Commission unanimously adopted Resolution No. 09-01, which recommends an amendment to the city’s Land Development Code to better define standards, purposes, applicability, and requirements for the issuance of temporary use permits.

The new amendment contains a clear definition of “temporary use,” and clarifies and consolidates existing standards in Section 82-222 of the Land Development Code to determine compliance with temporary use requirements by the Planning Commission.

While amending the statement of purpose and scope for temporary uses in Section 126-61, the amendment also incorporates a new Applicability Section 126-63, which clearly defines four specific types of temporary use applications that could be considered for approval, such as occupancy of a dwelling unit or temporary structure as a construction office; occupancy of a temporary structure to conduct a permitted or conditional use interrupted by a natural disaster; storage of heavy equipment which provides a service to City residents and businesses; and use of a temporary structure for a permitted or conditional use when approved plans for a permanent structure are in the process of construction.

The resolution will now be sent to City Council for review.

At its next meeting, the Planning Commission is expected to adopt a resolution recommending an amendment to the Land Development Code that will enable the Sanibel City Council to approve, with a report and recommendation from the Planning Commission, an additional period of time for a preliminary major subdivision plat to remain valid beyond the additional two-year extension approval that may presently be granted by the Planning Commission.

The extension will only be available when the delay is due to compliance with federal, state or local regulations pertaining to endangered or protected species and their respective habitat. In addition, the applicant must demonstrate that such an extension is warranted for a period of time necessary to comply with federal, state or local regulations.

Also on the table is a conditional use application and development permit application filed by Community Housing and Resources, to allow the construction of seven duplex units on a 2.37 acre parcel of land located at 1466 Court Place, to be occupied by low- and moderate-income families.

At 8 a.m., the Planning Commission, seated as the Land Development Code Review Committee, will continue discussion of Land Development Code Section 86-43, dealing with rhythm and harmony as concerns new home construction.