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Commission debates conditional use permit list

By Staff | Aug 15, 2013

Sanibel Planning Commissioners poured over the city’s commercial redevelopment project regarding permitted and conditional use businesses on the current list at Tuesday’s regular meeting at City Hall.

The effort was to determine if any conditional use categories could be moved to the permitted use list trying to streamline the process of starting a business on the island and making the permitting process more efficient.

“There may be instances for the process to start at the staff level,” said Sanibel Vice Mayor Doug Congress, who is City Council’s liaison to the Planning Commission. “We hope to create the efficiency we are looking for.”

Almost to a person, the commissioners favored keeping conditional uses while discussing each of the 31 categories on the current conditional use list.

“This is a worthwhile exercise so we as a commission can encourage redevelopment rather than just allow redevelopment,” said commissioner Chris Heidrick.

Commissioner John Talmage offered, “We should look at the permit lists according to the impact each one makes instead of just my the use itself.”

Commissioners seemed to favor taking food preparation and restaurant type businesses off the conditional use list, but there are several specific types listed.

“It is not so much a prohibition of that type of business as it is a process,” said Planning Director James Jordan. “They all have conditions that need to be looked at, such as odor, traffic, noise and garbage generated.”

In the end, onsite food prep, carry out food and ice cream stores and restaurants drew the most discussion, along with catering businesses. The commissioners favored the catering category be moved to the permitted list.

Bike rentals and non-motorized watercraft (kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, etc.) also were favored as permitted. Three other items were struck from the conditional use list – institutional uses, public utility uses and variety or department stores.

“I think the Land Development Code’s limit on square footage with take care of those,” said commissioner Chuck Ketteman. “The term variety store is too vague anyway. We can eliminate that one.”

Jeremy Kane, representing the Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce, encouraged commissioners to focus on the consequences of each business instead of the use itself. He said there are restrictions already in the Land Development Code that would raise red flags for certain uses.

At meeting’s end, Congress was asked by commissioners how he though the discussion went.

“Well, it wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fun, but you got through it,” Congress said. “I think you are on the right track and you are closer (to the end) than you think you are. I think we probably need to group some of the items, such as the food related ones, just to make sure we are being consistent in those judgements.”