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Planning Department drafting work program for FY2011-12

By Staff | Oct 12, 2011

On Tuesday, Planning Department Director Jimmy Jordan introduced a draft of his department’s work program for fiscal year 2011-12, which included both a list of tasks in-progress and the City’s Council’s goals for redevelopment.

According to Jordan’s department task list, the top priority was finishing work on the 2011-12 Evaluation & Appraisal Report (EAR) of the Sanibel Plan, updating recent changes in state law and addressing local matters as well as EAR-based plan amendments.

Planning Commissioner Dr. Phillip Marks informed his fellow panelists that, based on his experience with EAR work in the past, the amount of paperwork involved with the task was “incredible.”

Jordan also noted that work on the status report recognizing the preservation and restoration accomplishments of the Interior Wetlands Conservation District, which will include evaluating appropriate updates to the district’s boundaries, may take as long as six months to complete.

In addition to the seven projects the City Council or Planning Commission has directed the Planning Department to complete – which includes investigating adjusting the city’s permit application fees, regulations related to nuisance and abandoned properties, properties purchased with pre-existing conditions and design standards for off-street vehicular parking spaces and appropriate parking standards for bicycles – the idea of re-evaluating the language in applications for businesses which fall into the formula retail standard was brought up.

“Can we fix the language that will allow business owners to submit an application and not have to come before this board, when we are going to approve it anyway?” asked commissioner Chuck Ketteman.

“We don’t want to be slamming to door in people’s faces,” added chairman Michael Valiquette.

The commission agreed that they do not want to see any more “after-the-fact” applications, and that the department should provide additional education throughout the application process for prospective businesses.

After some additional discussions regarding formula retail businesses, commissioner Chris Heidrick suggested that staff take a look at the history of those applications, including how many permits were approved and denied. The panel then voted unanimously to continue work on potentially revising the draft language on formula retail business applications.

Regarding the Planning Department’s work program goals for FY2011-12, Vice Mayor Mick Denham suggested the field be narrowed to “one, two or three priorities,” urging them to focus on issues of the greatest importance to Sanibel.

“There has to be a commission perspective on what priorities are most important here on the island,” said Denham, who pledged that the City Council will work in cooperation with the commission on mutual goals and objectives for the upcoming year.

Holly Smith agreed, suggesting that her fellow commissioners bring to the next meeting their top three issues in order of priority. “This is an action plan,” she added.

Jordan stated that at the Oct. 25 meeting, he would provide the commission a projected timetable for each of the projects listed within his staff’s work program.