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Eight vie for three spots on Planning Commission

By Staff | Dec 16, 2009

During the next meeting of Sanibel’s City Council, one of the most important items on the agenda will be the appointment of three members to the city’s Planning Commission.

At present, two of the current members of the commission – chairman Michael Valiquette and commissioner Les Forney – have informed City Clerk Pamela Smith of their desire for reappointment. Both members’ terms will officially expire on Jan. 9, 2010.

A third seat will become vacant effective Dec. 31 of this year after fellow planner Patty Sprankle turned in her resignation from the commission last month. Sprankle’s term had been set to expire on Jan. 6, 2011.

“There are two major things I learned over my five years on the commission,” said Sprankle. “First, any of the preconceived ideas I had before I joined the commission turned out not to be true. Nothing is black and white. And when anybody starts a sentence with the words ‘Most people on Sanibel want…,’ then it shouldn’t even be said.

“I’ve learned how many different perspectives there are on the island, and that everybody has the right to express how they feel,” she added.

On Tuesday, Jan. 5, councilors will appoint three members to the seven-member commission, with two of the seats being three-year terms. The third seat will be for one year, the remainder of Sprankle’s term.

“I’ve enjoyed my time with the commission… it’s been very interesting,” said Forney, a retired general in the United States Army. “It gives you the sense that you’re trying to do something positive for the city.”

“I do enjoy working on the Planning Commission,” added Valiquette, owner of Sandcastle Construction and chairman of PURRE. “I think that every citizen should do what they can to try and improve their community.”

In addition to Valiquette and Forney, six other islanders – Christopher Heidrick, Chuck Ketteman, Kathy McCabe, Larry Schopp, Karen Storjohann and Jeff Weigel – have submitted applications for appointment to the Planning Commission.

Heidrick, who owns an insurance agency on Sanibel and an automobile repair facility in Fort Myers, previously served on the Planning Board for six years in Brick Township, N.J. He earned a degree in Economics from Penn State University.

“My family and I have lived in many extraordinary places, but we have never been happier than we are living right here on Sanibel,” said Heidrick, who moved to the island in 2007. “Given my prior experience as a Planning Board member, I believe this is an area where I can contribute to the community in a meaningful way.”

Ketteman, a retiree following more than 40 years of broad based management and executive business experience, currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company. He is past president of both The Schoolhouse Theater Foundation and BIG ARTS.

“The Planning Commission plays a vital role on Sanibel and will be dealing with key long-tern issues in the coming year,” said Ketteman. “I am interested in helping and think my partisan, objective approach to problem-solving might be helpful.”

McCabe, the owner of Island Renewal, LLC who lives nine months per year on Sanibel (the other three in Ann Arbor, Mich.), is a board member of SARR (Sanibel Reliance for Renewable Resources). She holds degrees in Health Care Administration and Human Resource & Organizational Development from Eastern Michigan University.

“Preserving Sanibel’s natural environment and encouraging a sustainable lifestyle to protect our precious island has become a passion of mine,” said McCabe. “I would like the opportunity to work with the Planning Commission in a proactive manner to help manage island growth and redevelopment with an environmentally-sensitive approach.”

Schopp, a retired attorney who worked with the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company for 28 years, has been active on the island for many years. He is the current chairman of the Architectural Review Committee and is the past president and chairman of the Land Use Planning Committee for COTI.

“As a member of the Planning Commission, I would have the opportunity to take my civic involvement a step further by putting my skills and knowledge of The Sanibel Plan and Land Development Code to productive use by helping the city address significant land use challenges in the future,” said Schopp.

Storjohann, a retired teacher from the Brentwood School District in New York, is a longtime Sanibel resident known for her involvement with community organizations including the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, CROW and BIG Arts, among others.

“I would like to have a more active role in the working of the Planning Commission because I believe their work is essential to the economic and environmental survival of the city,” said Storjohann, who attends almost every meeting of both the commission and City Council.

Weigel, the owner/manager of Sanibel Deli & Coffee Factory and Vice President of Operations at All Island Glass & Aluminum, Inc., holds a degree in Industrial Engineering from Clarkson University and a Master of Business (MBA) from Indiana University.

“I feel that it is very important that there be an equal balance of business development and residential development while keeping the environmental goals of the island in the forefront of decision making,” said Weigel, who also serves as a board member for both the Children’s Education Center of the Islands and The Sanibel School Fund.

The City Council will make their appointments to the Planning Commission on Tuesday, Jan. 5 at MacKenzie Hall, located at 800 Dunlop Road. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.