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Panel workshop discusses height restrictions for land development code

By Staff | Dec 3, 2009

Members of the public and the Captiva Community Panel met at South Seas Island Resort on Tuesday morning for a workshop session pertaining to height restrictions in the land development code.

“This is one of the areas that people seemed to have interest in. It has to do with quite a few different things, one is to try and modernize and permit houses to be built in a fashion that doesn’t require flat roofs and still make sure that people can build two living floors in their homes, but you have to have some roof articulation that makes sense from an architectural standpoint. We’re trying to modernize the height ordinance, give some leeway to roof articulations and also make sure we have an overall height restriction or limitation,” said panel member Mike Kelly.

Dave Depew and Max Forgey of Morris-Depew Associates, Inc. attended the session with informational diagrams illustrating the FEMA flood zones on Captiva and several examples of structures that would be appropriate for the current Captiva code previsions, in addition to structures within bounds of the existing Lee County land development code.

“[These] exhibits show you examples of the existing Captiva code with a flat roof, with a gable or a hip roof and the existing Lee County code, and what we’ve done is we’ve hit every elevation to show you what kind of volume you’ve got in living space,” Depew explained to the audience.

Sheet one of the packet Depew and Forgey handed out illustrated a home required to sit at a 17 foot elevation, which leaves 18 feet for the living area. Depew noted that when a peaked roof is used instead of a flat roof at an elevation like 17 feet, the living volume is significantly reduced.

“It’s pretty clear to see that you’ve restricted your living area rather substantially when you’ve got a peaked roof, so it’s not a particular surprise that you’re seeing everybody with these flat roofs, because that’s the only way you can get a living volume at that flood elevation,” Depew said.

The following sheets in the packet illustrated example homes at 16 foot elevation, 15 foot elevation and all the way down to a nine foot elevation.

“I’m in favor of having some way of delivering a roof articulation program for the community and I’m also in favor of having a reasonable approach for a two level living area. So if it means that you’re going to permit roof articulation, total height, over what we have now, then I’m in favor of it. As long as we can preserve the living area being reasonable so that they can have two attractive interior living levels, then I think we can afford to have a roof articulation program. What we have now is a squeezed program that doesn’t permit any articulation unless everybody has to pound themselves into a small box, and I don’t think that’s fair, I don’t think that’s correct and I don’t think we want that look on this island. However, there has to be some limitation on total height and what we’re doing with roof articulation ought to be non-living space,” Kelly said.

“I think we ought to develop a plan – and maybe we’ve got most of it already – and make sure that what we’ve got is clear and people know what they can do and make sure that it’s fair, and as long as it is, then I think it’s perfect. I think with some very minor modifications, the existing program is still okay,” Kelly continued.

Paul Garvey of the Captiva Civic Association suggested that if changes are made, the code should stipulate that the land development code height restriction rules are variance-proof.

After nearly two hours of involved discussion, Depew said he would take all the information from the workshop session and write up language to fit the views and desires expressed by attendees during the meeting, noting that Forgey would hopefully present some of the new language at the panel’s meeting next week.

The panel will further discuss the issue of height restrictions at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 9 a.m. at ‘Tween Waters Inn, 15951 Captiva Drive.