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Planners offer opinion on council’s 86-43 work

By Staff | Jan 13, 2010

Newly appointed Planning Commissioners Christopher Heidrick, left, and Chuck Ketteman attended their first session as members of the panel on Jan. 12.

A week after the City Council decided not to make any significant alterations to the existing Land Development Code Section 86-43, including establishing a trigger point for long-form applications, several members of the Planning Commission let their displeasure over the matter be known.

On Tuesday, four members of the commission addressed the matter during the session at which three councilors – Mick Denham, Kevin Ruane and Jim Jennings – were in attendance.

Most vocal of the group was Paul Reynolds, who began his remarks by stating, “Let me freely admit that my side lost the recent struggle to clarify 86-43.”

“After nearly two years of in-depth analysis by this commission, I am personally ashamed of the recently advanced ‘solution,’ and the outrageous assertion that 86-43 is working just fine,” he said. “Anybody who believes that, let them make their first call to David Mimms and their second to the perceptive individuals who wrote the Clarion Report.”

In his statement, Reynolds mentioned that there were several groups who “lost” after the council decided to keep Section 86-43 as written but widen the scope of the notification process. Ruane suggested that any exterior renovation or modification project valued at more than $50,000 be subject to notifying surrounding residences within 300 feet.

Planning Commission chairman Michael Valiquette, left, reads a resolution honoring former commissioner Patty Sprankle for her five years of service to the City of Sanibel.

The motion passed 4-1, with Denham casting the lone dissenting vote. However, the dollar figure to be attached to the resolution will be scrutinized by the Planning Department and brought back to council at a future date.

“Our Planning Commission lost because the full burden of interpreting this subjective ordinance falls right back on them with no specification, recommendation or guideline,” added Reynolds, who also counted the real estate industry and “anyone who currently, or may in the future, own property may fall victim to this unresolved ordinance weakness” as losers.

Vice Chairman Dr. Phillip Marks was also critical of the council’s action on 86-43, noting that he was reluctant to begin work on making recommendations on resort redevelopment, considered the planners’ top priority in 2010.

“I have some reservations about beginning work on an issue that we might put a lot of time into, only to be emasculated by the City Council,” said Dr. Marks, who hoped that the commission would receive some guidance and detailed specifics regarding resort redevelopment in the near future.

None of the councilors in attendance offered any reaction.

Also, planner Tom Krekel questioned the City Attorney, Ken Cuyler, whether the panel could request to make additional recommendations to the council regarding altering the city’s Land Development Code. Cuyler confirmed that they could.

Commissioner Holly Smith urged her fellow planners to “wait and see” what the council ultimately decides to do with adopting changes to Section 86-43 before they offer any recommendations. However, she did request that prior to any work on resort redevelopment the commission be provided a specific list of all affected properties.

At the start of Tuesday’s meeting, planners were required to elect a new chairperson and vice chairperson of the commission, who also welcomed new appointees Chuck Ketteman and Christopher Heidrick to the dais.

Michael Valiquette, who was reappointed to a three-year term last week, was returned as chair by a 4-3 vote over Dr. Marks, who returned as vice chair.

“Thank you. I’m happy to do this again,” said Valiquette. “I’d also like to thank Les Forney for his service to the city, and to Patty Sprankle for all her work.”

Ketteman, a retiree following more than 40 years of broad based management and executive business experience, said that his goals as a member of the commission were simple.

“I think that I’ll be able to help deal with the issues that the Planning Commission has to deal with,” he explained. “I was tired of being on the sidelines and thought I could offer some help.”

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.

“It’s important to be involved with your community,” Heidrick said. “The Planning Commission has an important mission. I can be fair, objective and impartial on issues that are important to the applicants and the city. You have to listen to both sides before you can make a decision.”