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Ruane continues as Sanibel Mayor

By Staff | Mar 22, 2013

JIM LINETTE Kevin Ruane Jr. holds the Bible as his father Kevin Ruane takes the oath of office for another year as Sanibel Mayor at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

Three members of Sanibel City Council were sworn in for new four-year terms at Tuesday’s monthly meeting at MacKenzie Hall, but the city has a new Vice Mayor.

Kevin Ruane, Mick Denham and Marty Harrity who were unopposed in seeking re-election to council took the oath of office to continue serving another term.

Ruane then was re-elected by councilmembers to continue his role as Mayor and Doug Congress was nominated and the panel elected him to take the seat as Vice Mayor.

Council then settled in and discussed at length their roles as liaison to various area boards, councils and committees. Denham, who represents the city on many outside panels, said he was interested in stepping away from the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council.

“After eight years on the council, I think it is time for a change,” said Denham.

No one volunteered to take on the role immediately as Ruane suggested grouping some related panels in light of the city’s current effort to come up with a commercial redevelopment plan. That sparked more debate on council trying to understand and identify related committees. Some of the boards on which they serve are appointed positions, such as Ruane’s seat on the Metropolitan Planning Commission, which he now chairs, and Denham’s newest seat on the Florida Regional Council Association (FRCA).

Harrity will continue as liaison to the Historical Committee, Historical Museum & Village and Horizon Council in addition to taking the Chamber Governmental Affairs Committee. He was, perhaps, leaning toward replacing Denham on the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council before council took a short break.

Upon reconvening, Congress ended the discussion by volunteering to accept the Planning Council seat. He also accepted the new role as Planning Commission liaison and on the Causeway Toll project. Because of the time required to serve on the Regional Planning Council, Congress asked to give up his role as liaison to Community Housing & Resources (CHR) and CHR’s Coast & Island Community Land Trust. Denham accepted the “trade” with Congress.

Denham also retained his seats on the environmental and water quality panels that he has been deeply involved in through the fertilizer issue.

Jim Jennings continues as liaison to the National League of Cities, the Parks & Recreation Committee, Vegetation Committee and adds the Contractors Review Board.

Ruane will represent council in a new role for Cultural & Civic Needs and Commercial Redevelopment. He will continue on the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust Board of Directors and chair of the Florida Municipal Insurance Investment Fund as well as roles with the Florida League of Cities, Tourism Development Committee and four others.

Denham expressed disappointment at not having a lead role in the Commercial Redevelopment process, but Ruane pulled rank on him, so to speak, as Mayor to lead the redevelopment effort which is in its infancy stage.

About the redevelopment, staff presented a draft followup to last week’s workshop on the subject, identifying five points for possible code revisions – permitted uses, non-conforming structures, parking, interconnectivity and setbacks.

Council was in agreement with the points and staff will make suggestions on the five items and bring it back to council. Public input could be allowed at that time.

Council also suggested that a master community calendar be put together listing all of the many events held on the island in order to communicate, educate and market Sanibel to visitors and others.

“I think that is a good idea. It’s scary how many events are going on around this island,” said Harrity.

City Manager Judie Zimomra reminded council about the East Periwinkle Way Shared Use Path improvement open house on Wednesday, April 3, at City Hall. The open house runs 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-7 p.m.

She also reported on the progress for a joint council meeting with County Commissioners. The two agencies’ calendars are not in sync until perhaps June. Council thought it was a good idea to delay the joint meeting until the fall, after dealing with the annual budget cycle.

Council’s April 2 meeting was cancelled and the next regular meeting was established as April 16.