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Planners, council make amends over 86-43 issue

By Staff | Oct 27, 2009

In an attempt to “put the past in the past,” the seven-member Planning Commission did their part to iron out some differences between their group and Sanibel’s City Council, who had expressed some displeasure over the handling of the frequently debated resolution to alter Land Development Code Section 86-43.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Vice Mayor Kevin Ruane – delivering the City Council Liaison Report – discussed the fallout from last week’s council session, during which some members of Sanibel’s top governing body accused the commission of not fully completing their duties with the proposed code amendment.

Planners held more than a dozen public meetings – some attended by overflow crowds – over the course of nearly two years, discussing at length what changes should be made to the existing code. In August, the commission 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.

During the past two City Council sessions, several members of the council have said that the submitted document was too lengthy – at 17 pages in total – and was misleading to persons who may interpret the code’s guidelines as law.

“I appreciate the first steps that have been taken, but I don’t think that we’re done,”

said Ruane at the Oct. 20 session.

But on Tuesday, he offered that the progress the council made regarding 86-43 at their last meeting was significant.

“Our instructions (to Director of Planning Jimmy Jordan) to develop a mission statement for the reader will let them know that this is a guideline,” Ruane said. “The way it is now reads like law.”

Planner Patty Srankle told Ruane that she took issue with the council’s attitude that “we just passed the ball.”

“The accusation that we did not do our job is not true,” added Sprankle, who also questioned why councilman Peter Pappas’ remarks about several members of the commission were allowed to go on record.

“The passing the ball comment may have been misconstrued,” said Ruane, who suggested that in the future the council and commission work cooperatively on matters like changes to the city’s Land Development Code. “Hopefully, we can move smoother and in the right direction.”

Tom Krekel also addressed the Vice Mayor, stating that he – like all of his fellow commissioners – believes they did a thorough job in making adjustments to Section 86-43.

“We started the year with a lot of ideas of which direction we wanted to go with this,” Krekel said. “We did our due diligence and we did compromise. None of us were totally happy with the final solution.”

“We have to do a better job working together,” responded Ruane. “We’re human beings and we do make mistakes, but we learn from them and we will move on.”

Planning chairman Michael Valiquette, who departed last week’s council session following after hearing some of the verbal battering of the commission, added his take on the subject.

“When we feel we can do no more, we pass it along to the city council… and that’s what we did,” he said. “This is supposed to be a sanctuary island where we’re supposed to get along with nature, but sometimes we can’t get along with each other.”

“We’re in a learning process all of the time, and it’s not an easy thing,” said fellow commissioner Holly Smith. “I think that we set a pretty good example of how a meeting should be run.”

In other business, the commission unanimously passed a resolution approving a Development Permit Application for the Tarpon Bay Medical Center, 5-0. Dr. Phillip Marks was absent from the meeting and Valiquette had recused himself from voting on the matter.

According to the application, the two-building facility will be constructed on a 2.4-acre parcel west of Bailey’s Shopping Center. Building “A” would be comprised of one unit containing 1,953 square feet of space and three units, each containing 1,245 square feet of space. Building “B” would be comprised of three units, each containing 1,896 square feet of space. The facility would accommodate seven practitioners and 14 employees.

The buildings would be situated approximately 30 feet apart, with a portico and connected common deck provided to allow for patient drop-off and pick-up. Their plans also include 62 parking spaces, eight of which will be handicapped accessible.