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Demand for improvement

By Staff | Mar 4, 2009

To the editor,

More than a year ago, on Feb. 14, 2008, Planning Commission Chairman Michael Valiquette wrote a letter to City Council requesting a deviation from the established redevelopment work program priorities to enable the Commission to study and report to Council on potential amendments to the Land Development Code in the areas of appropriately sized homes and neighborhood rhythm and harmony (Section 8643). The reason, according to Chairman Valiquette, was that current regulations “do not provide appropriate guidance and standards to applicants, the Planning Department and the Planning Commission.”

City Council agreed and the Commission, with the capable input from Planning Department Director Robert Duffy, has spent considerable time over the past year developing and refining a set of regulations which would address the Chairman’s concerns. Among these are;

A new statement of purpose,

A new notification process to apprise neighbors of new development permit applications,

Establishment of a floor area threshold for determining if

Planning Commission (Long Form Permit) review is required for a particular application,

Guidelines to assist with determining compliance.

According to an article in last weeks Island Sun, at the last weeks meeting of the Land Development Code Review Committee, a spokesman for the SanibelCaptiva Association of Realtors urged abandonment of the entire effort to improve and enhance Section 8643. He said the proposed changes would cause more problems than they solve and fuel community unrest. He suggested that the issue be left to neighborhood associations to address.

The very serious problem with that approach is that many neighborhoods on Sanibel do not have effective associations… and likely never will. People in those neighborhoods have relied on Section 86-43 to protect their interests for more than 20 years. Though the law has worked well at times, enforcement has been inconsistent and neighborhood involvement discouraged. The result has been dissatisfaction with the process and demands for improvement.

The proposed amendments would address those concerns effectively and should be adopted by the Planning Commission and sent on to City Council for enactment.

Larry Schopp

Sanibel