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A final word on 86-43

By Staff | Apr 9, 2009

To the editor,

If you are reading this letter, you will know that the Island Reporter has permitted me to revoke an oral oath that I made when submitting my letter of March 18. I deliver all of my letters to their office and on that occasion advised the receptionist (she does much more) that the letter was my last on the subject of Section 86-43. Her immediate response was “Raise your right hand,” which I dutifully did and accordingly swore. I think the phrase I used was “Gee whiz.”

At the time of delivery of this letter, I will present a bouquet of fresh flowers, and six White Owl cigars. This is to apologize for breaking my oath. I mention this only because on previous occasions, I gave a single rose and one cigar. Many friends have asked how I have had so many letters published; the secret is out.

Why have I broken my oath on not submitting any additional comments on Section 86-43? It is my understanding that the Planning Commission is considering the feasibility of having input from neighborhood associations when considering the enforcement of Section 86-43. As previously stated, I strongly object to such a procedure. We do elect a City Council who appoint members to various commissions to consider appropriate legislation. In their actions, they have open meetings where they receive public input and accordingly make the recommendations. I see no advantage in having a neighborhood comment on architectural matters. It is certainly no way to greet a new neighbor, and the resulting divisiveness is not necessary. If we don’t like what our appointed commissions and elected officials do, then the corrective action is not re-elect them. We are a bit too large to use the New England-style town meetings.

If the choice is to get a formal recommendation from a neighborhood, what is the definition of a neighborhood. I offer the following:

1. Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary – The people living near one another, a community.

2. Wikipedia – A geographically localized community within a larger city, town or suburb.

3. Black’s Law Dictionary – A place near; an adjoining or surrounding district; a more immediate vicinity.

4. Sanibel (Section 78-1. Rules of Construction and Definitions) – “Neighborhood means a discernible area in which the development scheme has resulted in the erection of structures which are similar in size, exterior design, and placement on the parcel whether such development took place in stages; or in a development where the land area is in common ownership, which has resulted in a discernible scheme, or where the structures are of similar size, and similar setbacks from the road, or there is an evident unity of development.”

There you have it, folks, a professional planner’s dream transferred to our lovely little island.

Please remember that we have incorporated our Vision Statement into our City Charter; therefore all legislation must meet its vision. Two of its provisions are quoted:

Community – Sanibel is and shall remain a small town community whose members choose to live in harmony with one another and with nature, creating a human settlement, distinguished by its diversity, beauty, uniqueness, character and stewardship.

Diversity – The City of Sanibel cherishes cultural, social, ecological, and economic diversity, and will endeavor to maintain it.

Does anyone see any potential conflict between our recommended neighborhoods per the above definition and our Vision Statement?

Robert Higgs, a conservative author, has made the following observation: “Harmonization brings about the severest form of regulation. People, by nature, run away from it. Example: People from Eastern Europe run to the U.S.”

Could Sanibel eventually see a bit of this? Want to sell your house? It might be a matter of the number of restrictions you are required to pass on to your potential buyer.

Everyone, except maybe my closest friends, will be glad to hear this is my last letter on Section 86-43. Wish me luck in tilting my next windmill.

Dale Armstrong

Sanibel