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Resort Housing redevelopment amendments introduced

By Staff | May 4, 2011

Mayor Kevin Ruane, left, recognized five Police Traffic Aides as "Employees of the Second Quarter" during Tuesday's council meeting. Honorees include Craig Crouthamel, Jack Fenwick, John Hall, Matt LaValley and John Sherwood.

Following more than 14 months of meetings, public input and sometimes intense discussions, work on the ordinance amending the city’s legislation related to redevelopment in the Resort Housing District appears to be closer to adoption than ever before.

During Tuesday’s City Council session, Jimmy Jordan, the city’s Planning Department director, introduced Ordinance 11-003 which — if formally adopted at their next meeting — includes several new definitions, adds a new section related to development intensity, amends the sections related to recreational open space, height, coverage and developed area limits. In addition, the pact would establish new standards for setbacks and vegetation removal, surface water management, best ecological practices and additional standards for the district.

“I think the product that we’ve come up with is excellent and I’m very proud of the work that’s been done,” said Mayor Kevin Ruane prior to Jordan’s presentation.

“The pending ordinance is consistent with the Sanibel Plan, the possible exception of permitting limited redevelopment (replacement) of accessory structures in the Gulf Beach Zone,” said Jordan. “The pending ordinance may exceed City Council authorized ‘key ingredients in two areas: (1) permitting limited redevelopment (replacement) of accessory structures in the Gulf Beach Zone, and (2) permitting redeveloped residential buildings in the Resort Housing District to be 33 feet above the Base Flood Elevation, but not higher than 48 feet NAVD.”

According to Jordan, the ordinance would affect 2,566 resort units in 62 developments, 654 motel, inn and cottage units in 11 developments and 380 timeshare units in 12 developments.

“The city recognizes the need to retain an adequate inventory of short-term occupancy units in support of the local economy, including maintenance of property values,” added Jordan. “Virtually all existing resort housing developments in the Resort Housing District exceed the limits established in the Development Intensity Map.”

Last year, the council requested that the Planning Commission develop legislation that would allow developments within the district to make improvements to buildings and structures that have become or will become out-of-date, provided there is no change in use. Their primary objectives were to encourage the retention of short-term housing units, provide opportunities for upgrading resort accommodations and improving the safety of all buildings and structures.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Beverly Grady, representing the Sundial properties, supported the pact’s mission to “maintain the vitality” of the resort housing district. She also suggested that voluntary redevelopment must be encouraged by the city, adding that she hoped council would include a provision allowing for the replacement of pools within the Gulf Beach Zone. Grady called the pools a “critical amenity.”

Karen Storjohann criticized the council for not involving members of the community more in drafting the ordinance, adding that the legislation should also incorporate some of the past historical details vital to keeping Sanibel the way the island’s pioneers would have wanted.

Larry Schopp, representing the Committee of the Islands, called the ordinance a “carefully crafted blueprint” for redevelopment.

“The Planning Commission has done an excellent job,” said Vice Mayor Mick Denham, noting that public input throughout the draft process was “significant and effective.”

However, Denham remained concerned over references to “green” technologies within the ordinance, and called for a stronger statement on the importance of Sanibel maintaining its stock of short-term housing units.

“This clearly identifies what we wanted, so I’m certainly comfortable that — for a first reading — we are farther along than many other first readings that we’ve done,” added Ruane. “We do have some work to do before the second hearing, but we will certainly take care of that.”

Ruane made a motion to approve the first reading of the ordinance, which passed 4-0, with councilman Marty Harrity absent.

The second public hearing on Ordinance 11-003 will take place on Tuesday, June 7 beginning at 9:15 a.m. at MacKenzie Hall. For additional information about the ordinance, visit www.mysanibel.com.