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Planners give nod to 14-unit BMRH project

By Staff | Mar 11, 2009

During Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting, the seven-member panel unanimously approved Court Place, a 14-until Below Market Rate Housing (BMRH) development that will be located off Centre Street.

Since the development was previously discussed – and tentatively approved – during a public hearing held their Feb. 24 session, commissioners agreed to grant both the conditional use and development permits being sought by the Community Housing and Resources for Coast and Islands Community Land Trust, Inc. (CHR).

Planners voted 6-0 to approve the application, with commissioner Phillip Marks recusing himself from voting due to his involvement with CHR.

As noted during their last meeting, planners are passing along the approved permits with the condition that the City of Sanibel pave Cetre Street, the main access road to Court Place. Centre Street is presently a crushed shell composite surface from it’s eastern end – where the Workforce Housing project has been proposed – through Dixie Beach Boulevard.

During initial discussions of the BMRH development, which proposes to construct four three-bedroom units and 10 two-bedroom units within the seven building subdevelopment, members of the commission heard comments from the public regarding increased traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Director of Planning Robert Duffy reported that after talking with the Department of Public Works, Centre Street would likely not be greatly impacted.

“Will there be increased traffic? Yes, there will be,” said Duffy on Feb. 24. “Will there be a significant impact created here? I don’t believe so.”

After several residents contested what might happen to their neighborhood during the construction of Court Place and subsequent influx of traffic following completion of the development, planner Les Forney asked that the paving of Centre Street be done at the city’s expense, rather than the developer or BMRH residents.

On Tuesday, commissioners reiterated that plans to pave the affected roadway would be of benefit to the entire community.

“Like I said during the last meeting, ‘If you pave it, they will come,'” Planning Commission chairman Michael Valiquette said, adding that the request to have Centre Street paved now falls into the hands of City Council. “That’s a can of worms that we don’t want to deal with.”

Also during the meeting, the commission thanked Duffy for his time, effort and dedication to working with their department. They presented him with an etched charger plate created by Sanibel artist Luc Century.

Duffy’s tenure with the city ends this week, after which he will join the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.