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Planners begin discussions on redevelopment study

By Staff | Apr 28, 2010

After months of background work completed by the City Council, the Planning Commission – via the Land Development Code subcommittee – started their discussions on the redevelopment study of Sanibel’s resort housing district on Tuesday morning.

The LDC spent more than an hour going through a four-page outline, provided by the city’s Planning Department, which included a summary outline regarding the study’s priorities and intended direction, proposed definitions to be used in any legislation drafted as a result of their deliberations and possible exceptions to the improvement or expansion of buildings or structures devoted to non-conforming uses.

“There is a concern that if there is a decline in the number of resort units, there will certainly be an impact upon the island’s businesses,” the outline, introduced by Planning Director Jimmy Jordan, stated. “Redevelopment should serve as an alternative to the conversion of existing hotel and motel properties so as not to result in the loss of short-term rental customers that benefit our small island-based businesses.”

According to Jordan, the six priorities identified by the City Council includes:

Redevelopment should not result in a negative change to the island’s character or natural environment.

Redevelopment should present an opportunity to achieve conformance with the Land Development Code and Sanibel Plan.

Redevelopment, in and of itself, should not be viewed as a means of achieving either economic revitalization or blight elimination.

Redevelopment should be a helpful to for preserving and strengthening Sanibel’s unique natural and cultural assets.

Redevelopment may pertain to those buildings and structures that were once developed that have now become physically challenged or functionally obsolete.

Redevelopment shall not adversely alter existing residential densities, development intensity or the carrying capacity of the beaches.

Following some discussion of the subcommittee members, Holly Smith asked her fellow colleagues if all properties – including inns and condominiums – located within the resort housing district should be included in any potential legislation, without being considered separately. All agreed that they should.

Subcommittee chairman Michael Valiquette, who will present the City Council an update on progress made by the Planning Commission regarding redevelopment discussions at their meeting next Tuesday, will also request further definition of the term “substantial improvement,” referred to in Land Development Code Chapter 126, Zoning Article 5.

In other business, planners briefly discussed the issue of accessory use of boat docks, boat davits and boat lifts along the bayside shoreline of the island, between Woodring Point and the Sanibel Lighthouse. At their last meeting, the City Council talked about rescinding the band on those structures.

Jordan told commissioners that the restriction on boat docks was put into place due to environmental concerns.

“We will look at the dock to make sure it is environmentally sound and won’t interfere with things such as seagrass growth,” said Jordan, who noted that anyone wishing to install a boat dock located within that region would still be required to apply for a conditional use permit and would come before the Planning Commission and a public hearing.

In addition, all property owners located within 300 feet of the boat dock area would be notified of the application.