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Church addressing noise complaints

By Staff | Oct 26, 2012

JIM LINETTE Sanibel Community Church officials continue to work to resolve neighbor complaints of excessive noise caused by a bank of air conditioning compressors. The church is seeking a certificate of occupancy for the new sanctuary as the holiday period approaches.

A resolution granting a conditional use permit to Sanibel Community Church allowing two additional air conditioning units to its site plan was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Sanibel Planning Commission.

There was no public input allowed on the resolution as the hearing focused on the language of the resolution.

Commissioners questioned Ray Pavelka, contractor for the church, on communication efforts with complaining neighbors and noise abatement solutions.

“We tested the blankets for the units,” said Pavelka. “We put them on four of the units, but basically we got the same (decibel) readings as before.”

Pavelka said relocating several of the compressor units to another side of the building is an expensive undertaking at this point.

“The next thing we are doing is testing the high- or low-pitch frequency of the noise,” Pavelka said. “Based on what readings we get from that, the next step would be a barrier or wall and using sound absorbing material on the exterior building wall.”

More important for some commissioners, however, was the channels of communication with the neighboring residents who turned the Oct. 9 Plan Commission meeting into a vocal confrontation.

“I met with the residents more than once,” said Pavelka. “I was on their property talking with them about proposals and I think it is going well. I think they are pleased with more open communications.”

For the second time, a hearing on a conditional use and development permit application for a donut, coffee and sandwich restaurant to open at 1020 Periwinkle Way was postponed to the next commission meeting on Nov. 13. The developers are addressing natural resource, fire and rescue, parking and traffic impact concerns related to conversion of the former office space into restaurant use.

During closing public comments, Jan Manarite addressed some concerns she has as a tenant in the Community Housing and Resources (CHR) program on Sanibel.

She started by praising CHR for its role in her family’s life for the last 13 years.

“I am thankful for that and I want to say that (executive director) Kelly Collini has been wonderful,” said Manarite. “She listens and tries to find solutions.”

Manarite related details of a family health crisis that has commanded her time in caring for her husband. She is facing a rent increase to more than $1,300 a month since she cannot meet the CHR requirement to be employed at least 35 hours a week.

“There are three exemptions,” said Manarite, who fought back tears several times. “One is retired, which is my husband, or disabled, which is my husband, or be a full-time student. Won’t they accept additional exemptions?”

Commission vice-chair Dr. Phillip Marks, who also serves on the CHR board of directors, approached Manarite after the meeting along with City Councilman Doug Congress, who is the council’s liaison to the CHR board.

“Mr. Marks assured me they would work with me on this,” said Manarite, whose annual lease is up for renewal. “Kelly Collini is willing to work with me. I truly believe they want to work this out with me, but I’m scared.”

Manarite even suggested to the commission that a CHR tenant should be placed on the board to help them find solutions.

“We’re just doing the best that we can do,” Manarite concluded.

Manarite, who said she has attended several landlord/tenant meetings, was assured by Marks and Congress that her situation will be addressed at CHR.