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EAR, applications pass through Plan Commission

By Staff | Apr 13, 2012

JIM LINETTE Sanibel's Plan Commission approved a conditional use permit application for a formula retail store known as J. McLaughlin for space in the Heart of the Island Shops.

The Sanibel Planning Commission heard and approved two applications and reviewed parts of the Sanibel Plan Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) at Tuesday’s meeting in City Hall.

While each item was dealt with at length and in great detail, it was a new experience for John Talmage, the newest member of the commission attending his first public meeting.

“I enjoyed the interaction with the board and the applicants,” said Talmage, who was appointed to his seat by the City Council to fill the unexpired term (until January 2014) of Paul Reynolds, who resigned. “I am impressed and happy to be part of this.”

The entire commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit application for a formula retail store known as J. McLaughlin. The apparel and accessories store will occupy a 1,500-square-foot unit in the Heart of the Island Shopping Center at 1616 Periwinkle Way.

The applicant will occupy an existing structure with no external architectural modifications. The interior of the unit will be remodeled and customized for the display and sale of the brand name apparel.

J. McLaughlin will share the center with Three Crafty Ladies, a gift shop, Sanibel Home Furnishings and B. Unique Boutique, a small store to open in the near future, and is considered complimentary to those businesses.

The other application under consideration was an after-the-fact variance request to the Land Development Code regarding marine structures.

Joint applicants Robert and Anita Smith and Mark and Deborah Wlaz, next-door neighbors and recent property buyers in the Shell Harbor subdivision, sought approval for a common walkway connecting their two existing boat docks across the required 15-foot side lot line requirement. The connecting walkway at the corner of a canal was constructed by previous owners in 1995. The adjacent properties were developed before the City of Sanibel was incorporated.

The nonconforming dock came to the attention of the Planning Department during a site inspection and subsequent search for development or variance permits in city records.

After much discussion of five conditions, the variance was unanimously approved.

Previously discussed changes to three parts of the EAR regarding human support systems, water supply and wastewater treatment elements met with little opposition. Most of the revisions were described by planning director James Jordan as “housecleaning” by removing references to the Florida Administrative Code.

Special attention was paid to the fact the city essentially has reached “build-out” status. Remaining lands available for residential development consists of a few vacant lots in existing subdivisions and no vacant lands in the Resort Housing District. The city also has less than 10 acres of vacant commercially zoned land.

The city has matured to a redevelopment phase, focusing on maintenance and upgrades to existing facilities.

“I like bringing the certainty of a conclusion,” Talmage said after adjournment. “I’m interested in people bringing properties to us with ease and under the same code. And I’m excited about all the green elements.”

The next commission meeting on April 24 will include a public hearing on a conditional use permit application for onsite food preparation association with the operation of a proposed juice bar as an incidental use to the Sanibel Sprout, an existing health food store.