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LDC Review Committee ponders 86-43 changes

By Staff | Mar 25, 2009

For the second time in the past month, the Land Development Code Review Committee (LDCRC) met and embarked upon a lengthy discussion regarding amendments to the city’s Land Development Code Chapter 86, Article II’s Section 86-43, continuing to debate whether making changes to the code as a means of making the application process more efficient for both homeowners and the Planning Commission.

On Tuesday, acting Planning Department Director Jimmy Jordan brought to the LDCRC a summary of potential alternatives to the current code structure. Included were Sanibel’s height, setbacks and coverage and developed areas alternative requirements, along with suggested changes to those requirements.

Among the department’s suggestions were:

Instead of setting a floor area-to-lot ratio to address the vertical massing issue of two-story residences, the second living floor area could be required not to exceed 60 percent of the proposed or existing dwelling’s first habitable floor area.

Restrict single-family dwellings from having a third living floor.

Modify the current side yard setback for all residential properties, so as to increase the minimum required side yard setbacks an additional five feet for every 50 feet of lot or parcel frontage over 100 feet. (The current minimum side yard setbacks are 10 feet).

Where two or more individual “buildable” lots are consolidated, the maximum land area to be cleared of vegetation or used as developed area shall not exceed that permitted for the lot permitting the larger amount of developed area plus 50 percent of that permitted for the other lot(s), if those lots were individually developed.

During their last meeting, on March 10, the LDCRC approved the Planning Department to move forward with suggestions of amendments which included Purpose and Objectives, Applicability to Development Permit Applications, Notification Process, Permit Application and Compliance Procedures and Guidelines to Assist with Determining Compliance. However, they stopped short of discussing the establishment of a Floor Area Threshold for determining if the applicant would need to submit a Short Form Permit or Long Form Permit. All Long Form Permits would require review by the Planning Commission.

When members of the LDCRC brought up the threshold issue, Commissioners Tom Krekel, Dr. Phillip Marks and Paul Reynolds each voiced their opinion on the matter.

“I don’t think that setting a threshold will overload the staff in any way,” said Krekel. “I think that’s exactly why we need to set a threshold. This (issue) cost Mr. Mimms a year of his time.”

Jordan requested some direction the LDCRC wanted to move in regarding size and mass of structures, defining floor areas, whether to establish a standard based upon the median size home rather than the largest home in a neighborhood, whether they use a “neighborhood” or distance-to-property standard and effective floor areas should include elements such as parking garage, stairs, porches and pool enclosures and storage spaces.

“If people know going in that there are certain standards, then they can work with us,” said Marks.

“I’m looking for this group to have a serious discussion that we want to establish certain thresholds,” added Reynolds.

During public comments, several members of the audience questioned the proposed amendments regarding side yard setbacks and height restrictions. Former planner Jack Samler noted that before the LDCRC approves any of the proposed changes, they must consider whether those alterations are in the best interest of both residents and the Planning Commission.

“I think what we’re all trying to get here is clarity, for the public,” he said.

“We need to discuss what filter or trigger needs to be put in place so that we can tell our Planning Department that we need to take a look at this,” said Marks.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission will take place at MacKenzie Hall, located at 800 Dunlop Road, on Tuesday, April 14. The LDCRC is expected to continue their discussion regarding establishing a floor area threshold at that time.