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A slap in the face to our founders

By Staff | Mar 31, 2011

To the editor,

Sanibel’s enduring prosperity is due to the actions taken by its people in 1974 to incorporate. Some of the stated goals in the incorporation papers were “create a new zoning ordinance consistent with the specific needs of the island; develop a master plan guaranteeing orderly growth and protection of the environment, and set and enforce density ratios, height restrictions on buildings, and set back lines from the beach.” (The Sanibel Report, page 14). A plan that met those goals was adopted in 1976. Because of it, an educated and affluent population has been drawn to Sanibel to visit and to live, a population that values Sanibel’s uniqueness.

Plans are not static, they have to adapt to new information and technology. By and large, the revisions in the proposed ordinance fall into the category of how to adapt old buildings to new realities – handicap access, pool safety standards, hurricane protection. However, the proposed change that would permit hotels, motels and inns, built under Lee County Code, to rebuild to that same level of intensity, instead of coming into compliance to the standards of the Sanibel Plan, is a slap in the face to our founders and to everyone who has built following the code. In my opinion, it jeopardizes the prosperity and property value of the larger community for the sake of a few. (Haven’t we seen enough of that?)

I believe we need to step back, refresh our memory regarding the history, intent, chronology and suits brought in reference to the Sanibel Plan, then have a full discussion before proceeding to a vote on that section of the proposed ordinance. I paraphrase Councilman Pappas referring to a similar issue: If we are going to lose the Sanibel Plan, it should be taken from us, not given up willingly.

Karen Storjohann