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LDC Review Committee considers 86-43 changes

By Staff | Mar 11, 2009

The Planning Commission held a Land Development Code Review Committee (LDCRC) session during their March 10 meeting, debating whether or not to make changes to the current version of Section 86-43 in an effort to “streamline” the application process.

About 40 citizens came to MacKenzie Hall to hear the LDCRC discuss the establishment of a Floor Area Threshold – which would be determined by the square-footage for a construction project – to determine whether the Planning Commission would automatically review single-family dwelling development permit applications.

However, the seven-member panel appeared to be split not just on which square-footage calculation method should be used, but whether such limits should be established at all.

“I think that it’s kind of a trap,” said commissioner Patty Sprankle, who was not in favor of setting a square-footage “trigger” which would determine if applicants would use a short form or long form application. “I think that it should be (determined by) the character and appearance of a structure.”

City Planner Jimmy Jordan, who reported that he has worked for the city for the past 20 years, noted that “less than five” applications he has seen during his tenure have been directly affected by Section 86-43 of Sanibel’s Land Development Code. In January, the LDCRC met to consider amendments to Section 86-43. They determined that six topical areas which might be considered for change would include:

Purpose and Objectives

Applicability to Development Permit Applications

Notification Process

Permit Application and Compliance Procedures

Establishment of a Floor Area Threshold for Determining if Planning Commission (Long Form Permit) Review is required

Guidelines to Assist with Determining Compliance

“As with any amendment to the Land Development Code, these potential amendments must be consistent with the Sanibel Plan,” the staff report reads, in part.

In addition, the report notes that any amendments to the Land Development Code should address the Planning Commission’s recommendation to City Council, they should be consistent with and reinforce the procedures and standards of the Land Development Code and they should be “clear in their intent and application and ensure consistency and predictability in permitting… “

“Obviously, we would like to see some closure here,” said Jordan. “We’ve got bigger fish to fry.”

Commissioner Tom Krekel agreed, adding, “I don’t think that this is an effort to limit the size of homes. I think that this is just another guideline for the planning department to use.”

Sanibel resident Barbara Cooley told the LDCRC that whenever a new single-family home development permit is being considered, all residents within that neighborhood should not just be notified but be able to work in cooperation with the Planning Commission throughout the application process.

“My main concern is to allow the residents of a neighborhood to have an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process,” she said.

“I do think that size is an appropriate trigger point,” added resident Herb Rubin. “I don’t think that style is.”

Larry Schopp, who said that Section 86-43 has been a part of Sanibel for about 20 years – “and has served us very well,” he noted – called for commissioners to establish an objective, size-based trigger.

While the LDCRC continues to consider setting up guidelines for determining a square-footage maximum that would bring an application before them, the panel decided to approve five of the six potential amendments.

Also to be determined:

Whether Land Development Code Section 78-1, which defines a neighborhood, requires further specifications

Establishing a new definition for Residential Floor Area (RFA), and whether the apply threshold should include habitable and non-habitable spaces

Whether the applicability of this threshold procedure is both relevant and reasonable

The Planning Department is expected to bring back revisions to the amendment proposals at the next LDCRC meeting, scheduled for April 14.