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Resort redevelopment guidelines OK’d by council

By Staff | Mar 17, 2010

It may have taken two months and four meetings worth of discussions, but the City Council is confident that the parameters within the Planning Commission should focus on during their deliberations regarding redevelopment in the resort housing district are as clear and to-the-point as possible.

So much so that by the end of their talks on Tuesday, the council said that they expect the commission to conclude their work on updating resort housing legislation before the end of this year.

According to Planning Director Jimmy Jordan’s five-page memorandum, developed and refined during the council’s discussion on the subject, the three primary purposes in addressing the short-term occupancy concerns on Sanibel, in conjunction with the improvement or replacement of aging resort structures, include:

To improve building safety and comply with the Building Code requirements and flood regulations

To preserve the daily, weekly capacity of short-term rental units

To encourage property owners/investors to maintain their hotel/motel use

“It is in the interest of both residents and businesses to preserve the short-term rental (less than four consecutive weeks) housing stock,” the report stated.

Jordan’s memorandum details the fundamentals of redevelopment, density, lot coverage and developed area, height limits, setbacks, green technologies as well as relocation of the footprints of existing structures when redevelopment occurs.

“These are merely guidelines, fairly broad in nature,” said Mayor Mick Denham. “The question to us today is are these guidelines adequate enough to pass along to the Planning Commission?”

“I think we’ve come a long way in our discussions,” added Vice Mayor Kevin Ruane. “I think it’s a clean document that we can be confident in handing-off.”

One of the sticking points brought up during each council discussion on the matter was density. The Planning Department’s proposed document states that any hotel, motel or condominium which is non-conforming (i.e. exceeding the current limits on the city’s Development Intensity Map) should be allowed to redevelop and maintain that existing density.

“Under the provisions of this redevelopment program, these developments that exceed the number of units permitted by the Development Intensity Map, will remain non-conforming, until such time as they fully redevelop in accordance with the Sanibel Plan and the Land Development Code, as amended to establish appropriate parameters for redevelopment,” the document noted.

As they talked about the proposed guidelines, Denham suggested that the council and commission meet on a monthly basis to determine if the work on updating city legislation is moving in the right direction for both parties.

“Our ultimate goal is that we can move this along and be done with it certainly in less time than we did with (Land Development Code Section) 86-43,” Ruane said.

During the public comment portion of the session, several audience members cited some issues that needed further work and refinement, including matters related to modernization and rehabilitation, lot coverage and density, height restrictions and base flood elevation requirements. Denham explained that he was confident that each topic would be discussed and fine-tuned during the Planning Commission’s deliberations.

“This is just the beginning of a very important process,” he added.

The council voted unanimously to pass the guidelines along to the commission, which is expected to begin their work on resort housing redevelopment legislation at their next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, March 23.

“I think we’ve had some good, open dialog,” said Marty Harrity. “We have the right process in place.”

In other business, the council awarded a two-year contract to Alba Cleaning, in the amount of $10,080 annually, for the cleaning of Sanibel’s City Hall. They also awarded a two-year contract to RT Cleaning by Rimma Tyo, in the amount of $26,200 annually, for the cleaning of restrooms at Sanibel Community Park and each of the island’s public beach facilities.

According to City Manager Judie Zimomra, both contracts were re-bid as part of the city’s ongoing cost-reduction activities.

The council also reduced the amount of members appointed to the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee from 13 to nine, which will be done through attrition, and approved the change in name from the Sanibel “Senior Center” to “Center 4 Life.”