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Planners waiting for councilors comment

By Staff | Feb 10, 2010

During a brief Planning Commission meeting, the seven-member board officially denied the request from the owners of CVS Pharmacy for a variance that would allow a second business sign to be installed on their property, prepared for upcoming discussions on resort housing redevelopment and offered their commentary on City Council’s passage of amendments made to Land Development Code Section 86-43.

Following Vice Mayor Kevin Ruane’s liaison report, Paul Reynolds told his fellow commissioners lamented the final version of the long-debated code approved at last week’s council session, 3-2, with Mayor Mick Denham and councilman Peter Pappas casting negative votes.

“I think it’s an issue that needs clarification and I’m very disappointed,” It’s amazing to me that the only three people who think that 86-43 is working are those three members of City Council.”

On Feb. 2, Ruane, Marty Harrity and Jim Jennings voted in favor of amending the LDC regulations for the appearance of structures, size and mass of structures and notification procedures for single family and duplex dwelling units.

The ordinance also broadens the definition of neighborhood as defined in an accompanying resolution – which identified each individual neighborhood subdivision on Sanibel – but lacked two elements originally included by the city’s Planning Commission:

A trigger point of the largest existing home within a neighborhood, which would be used to determine if an applicant seeking to build a new single family or duplex residence, or modify an existing structure, would need to complete a short form or long form application.

Guidelines which offered detailed direction of the altered application review procedures and requirements, along with a “Purpose & Intent” clause.

“I respect your opinion, Paul, but I choose to respectfully disagree,” Ruane responded, adding that the commission’s suggestion of a trigger point was “set too low.”

Also during last week’s council meeting, local leaders began preliminary work related to redevelopment in the resort housing sector. The council will likely spend the next few meetings discussing important details related to the matter before passing it along to the Planning Commission.

Jimmy Jordan, director of the city’s Planning Department, presented the council with a six-page memorandum related to resort housing redevelopment, including general objectives needed to guide the drafting of land use regulations so that “modernization of existing non-conforming properties can occur within the framework of The Sanibel Plan.”

Included in the memorandum were several key questions the council should ponder, including:

Since non-conforming developments can build-back if substantially damaged by a natural disaster, should these developments – at the time of build-back – be allowed to “improve” their site plans and retain their pre-disaster use and number of dwelling units?

Should the city’s land development regulations require existing hotels, motels and resort complexes to redevelop with the same use, if these properties are permitted to redevelop in excess of the density allowed by the Development Intensity Map, up to the number of units currently existing?

Should the height limit of 45 feet be increased to adjust for the increase in the Base Flood Elevation, pursuant to the 2008 amendment to the Flood Insurance Rate Map?

“We’ll try and give you as clear a direction as we can,” Ruane told the commission.

Planner Tom Krekel suggested that he and his fellow commissioners begin discussions on what they would like to see accomplished through resort housing redevelopment talks, while Chuck Ketteman noted that the key would be identifying the primary issues involved.

“I think we’ll wait until we can review the council’s comments before we begin our discussions,” said chairman Michael Valiquette.

The commission is also expected to begin work on applications for outdoor dining regulations in non-conforming business sectors. Currently, three Sanibel restaurants – Twilight Cafe, Gramma Dot’s and The Mad Hatter – have submitted inquiries related to the subject.