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An environmental legacy

By Staff | May 13, 2009

To the editor,

Winston Churchill said, “We never know what the future will bring but the past gives us hope.” This statement certainly applies to the Sanibel Planning Commission’s recent decision regarding 86-43. A shifting group of steadfast commissioners worked together to keep overdevelopment at bay, assuring that Sanibel will remain the environmental legacy that thousands of dedicated individuals have worked to protect for many decades.

A huge bravo to David Berger, who believes that Sanibel citizens have the right to hire their own expert witnesses whenever they deem it necessary. David, Paul Reynolds and Phil Marks were dedicated supporters of citizens rights and the defining principals of 86-43 from the first day of the debate.

And special kudos to Les Forney, who – as the debate developed – continually brought expertise to the meetings and hearings. And Tom Krekel, who gave a stirring speech to the Sanibel City Council in support of returning both former commissioner David Berger and Commissioner Phil Marks to the Sanibel Planning Commission. Krekel said that while he didn’t always vote as Berger and Marks did, he believed the two commissioners provided “the consciousness” of the planning commission, a stunning compliment to both men and also to Mr. Krekel for speaking out so honestly.

A special thank you is in order to Patty Sprankle, who pragmatically changed her vote at a recent LDC meeting, which allowed her to then make a motion in support of the 100 percent trigger point that passed 5-2. It was time for that important decision to be finalized as it allows the 86-43 process to continue to move forward.

A number of different planning commissions and city councils have wrestled with 86-43 for many years. This is the first planning commission that has been able to successfully reach real resolution, which speaks to the wisdom and honest dedication of a majority of the commissioners.

A very special thank you is, as well, due the Sanibel Planning Department. Once things got defined, Bob Duffy, Jim Jordan and the entire department bent over backwards to be fair to all sides regarding the 86-43 issue. We very much appreciated Jordan’s closing comment about the present trend to downsize homes. In these times of serious climate concern – doubled with dramatic decreases in the world’s oxygen-producing forests – a decrease in the size of homes is positive news.

We wish to thank the Island Reporter for their extremely fair reporting regarding the many 86-43 debates and meetings. They generously published a large number of letters that allowed Sanibel citizens to express their personal opinions on this important issue. One reason democracy is alive and well on Sanibel is because we have a newspaper that welcomes citizen comments and letters. The Island Sun’s meeting coverage was, as well, very good.

One of the reasons our country is presently suffering difficulties is due to greed and personal ego. Sanctuaries like Sanibel witness to the value of people attuning not only to each other but also to their environment. This island is a beacon to the values of people who chose to listen to each other as well as to the voices of the sea, the trees, and all the whispering creatures that share this beautiful paradise with us.

Thankfully, with protective ordinances like 86-43 we will continue to be respectful of Sanibel’s remarkable “rhythm and harmony.”

Sandy McCartney Ehlers and Tom Ehlers