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Permitted uses discussion provides more questions

By Staff | Jul 17, 2013

As Sanibel has grown, the definition of a permitted use has become much broader.

And by the time the Sanibel Planning Commission finished its one-hour discussion on commercial redevelopment and permitted uses Tuesday at city hall, it also became a little cloudier.

And the conditional uses could easily be brought up to debate. Among those on the commission, there were differences in what they deemed acceptable.

It has been these standards that may have cost the city great business ideas over the past 30 years, some say.

“That’s the problem when you talk about every type of business that someone might want to open and we have a list of what may or may not fit in,” Commission Chairman Michael Valiquette said. “People come here with ideas and don’t want to spend the time or the money and go somewhere else.”

Before 1985, there were 26 permitted uses in the city. With the passage of the Land Development Code of 1985, that number rose to 100, with 31 conditional uses, according to James Jordan, director of planning.

“Some examples of conditional uses include a gas station, car wash, food vendors, a barber shop and any retail store with more than 2,000 sq. ft. of retail space,” Jordan said. “Are these uses consistent with Sanibel?”

Today, that list begs the question on if Sanibel needs to rethink its codes in the event something new comes around that the city may not be able to get in on the ground floor of because of antiquated codes.

“In 1985 somebody decided to make a list of uses. Who knows what will change in 20 years. Before we delve into if No. 77 should be conditional, we need to ask if it makes sense,” said Commissioner Chuck Ketteman. “The arrogance of thinking we have a list that includes the next 10 years is crazy. We need good ideas to come here.”

Among the good ideas was a mixed-use office building that could house lawyers, accountants and financial planners, which are lacking on the island.

“Why can’t space be made for professionals? There’s not enough of it,” Commissioner Phillip Marks said. “We have to go off the island for things.”

Of course, there were some things that have never been associated with Sanibel, such as tattoo parlors and strip clubs, that some may believe has a value.

Marks remembered an example being a pool hall that sold alcohol. Soon, the fear was that bikers would soon come around.

“It started innocently, but got worse,” Marks said.

Valiquette said the city should look at Mount Dora, near Orlando, as an example, as it has just mom-and-pop stores, no retail restaurants or tattoo parlors or strip joints. It was suggested the city write to it and other unique cities to see if they have a list. Commissioner Holly Smith asked to include other vacation jewels like Nantucket and Aspen.

Kettemen suggested the Chamber of Commerce and other businesses give their input. The Chamber said it would do so.