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Planners discuss 86-43 adjustments

By Staff | Sep 23, 2009

During Tuesday’s Planning Commission session, Mayor Mick Denham delivered his City Council Liaison Report, informing the seven-member panel that he and his fellow leaders had requested additional time to investigate their proposed amendments to Sanibel’s Land Development Code Section 86-43.

During his report, Denham told planners that the council wanted to “revisit and review some of the wording” contained within the document which they had submitted for approval. Last week, councilors decided to postpone any action on Section 86-43 until their Oct. 20 meeting.

In August, planners agreed to submit an ordinance proposing the establishment of a trigger point – that being the largest house within a neighborhood – to the City Council for their approval. An abbreviated council – with Denham and Peter Pappas absent – voted unanimously on Aug. 18 to approve the first reading of the altered Land Development Code, which revised procedures and standards for single family and duplex dwelling units.

However, on Sept. 15, three of the five councilmen – Jim Jennings, Kevin Ruane and Marty Harrity – asked for more time to investigate the document further.

During last week’s session, several members of the commission spoke out in favor of passing the proposed ordinance as they had submitted it. Planners debated changing the policy of Section 86-43 for almost two years, held numerous meetings seeking the public’s input and finally came to a consensus on the matter.

Councilors may seek to make adjustments to the proposed policy change, and have not ruled out returning it to the Planning Commission for additional input.

“I will tell you that the Planning Department supports this because they recognize that this gives them far greater clarification to what they can do with a property,” Planner Paul Reynolds said during the council meeting.

Michael Valiquette, chairman of the Planning Commission, also said that he hoped the council would not send the document back to his group for further revisions. On Tuesday, he asked Denham, “Do you see a reason why this would come back to us?”

“I guess it would depend upon what changes the council might want to make,” Deham replied, adding that speculating on what alterations might be suggested would be premature at this point.

City Attorney Ken Cuyler explained that since the City Council is in charge of establishing city policies, they may desire to send their changes back to the commission for review.

“They can make changes based upon your recommendations… or they may not,” Cuyler added. “They are the final word.”

Later in the meeting, Dr. Phillip Marks weighed in on the matter.

“I think that we’re basically done with (86-43),” he said. “We passed it along with language that we were comfortable with.”

Marks also suggested that if the commission were to receive the policy back from the council for additional debate, both bodies could meet and discuss the subject mutually

“We tackled that from the beginning to the end, by ourselves, so being able to receive some direction from the council would be very beneficial to us,” added planner Holly Smith.