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City to Cut Permit Fees by 25%

By Staff | Jan 5, 2012

Permitting fees associated with building may soon drop as much as 25 percent as City Leaders determined to move forward on a fee reduction proposal deliberated during the City Council Meeting of January 3, 2012.

Fees collected over the past year, coupled with cost-saving measures implemented by the City, has led to a surplus of more than $600,000. City Manager Judi Zimomra had been tasked with preparing reports reflecting ranges in values received in various scenarios allowing for decreases in permitting fees. As the Council reviewed options, Mayor Kevin Ruane proposed dropping fees as much as 25%, saying, “This is an opportunity to give relief.” As City Manager Zimomra prepares the requisite paperwork, it is anticipated that actions involving the reduction will soon be formalized.

During other business, City Council recognized the community service of the not-for-profit Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.) which was represented by Executive Director Maggi Feiner. Mayor Ruane read a proclamation that paid tribute to the organization’s efforts in providing support to those experiencing financial hardship, in what is often, emergency situations. Last year, F.I.S.H. contributed more than $425,000 in support of local needs. The organization has more than 200 volunteers serving between Sanibel and Captiva.

In other business, ordinances were read dealing with changes in development codes, specifically designed to add incentive for properties that would potentially renovate or modify elements of their development. While this has been focused on in previous articles and/or addressed in public forums, it should be noted that modifications involve developments constructed prior to existing guidelines, which, in effect, hinder properties from making renovations as it would result in loss of room space or relocation of elements, such as swimming pools. The ordinances covered essentially allow properties to make necessary repairs/renovation in such a way as to avoid loss of density, and allow for adjustment within their respective, existing footprint.

This business, nonetheless, prompted concern by some in attendance and question was raised as to whether it was prudent for Council to have more frequent public meetings after working hours during the week, or possibly on weekends. That idea was ultimately rejected by Councilman Congress as well as Mayor Ruane who collectively said their experience with meetings conducted in such time frames typically yielded low turn-out.

Phil Marks and Holly Smith were reappointed to posts with Sanibel’s Planning Commission, while Vice Mayor Mick Denham offered some condolences to a third candidate who didn’t make the cut – George Campeon. Denham noted that it took several tries before he had secured an appointment with planning, joking “it is easier to get on Council than it is planning.”

A portion of City Council time was also spent addressing alterations in membership criterior associated with Sanibel Recreation Center’s Financial Assistance Program. The measures were introduced by Director Barry Roth who designed the plan to garner greater participation from the community who could attend board meetings during the busy months of summer. While council was ultimately in agreement with the proposal, upon learning that all of the current committee members had yet to be informed of such changes, decision was put off for their discussion and further review.

Council additionally supported measures allowing for outside dining and the extension of hours at Sanibel Marina. Mike Ireland of the Marina was also on hand to request a variance in terms of two columns that were erected some years ago on the site. These had not been properly permitted at the time, but Council ultimately agreed to allow them to remain.

Full minutes of the City Council Meeting, as well as audio recording, can be found Online at www.mysanibel.com