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Commercial uses undergoes more scrutiny

By Staff | Aug 29, 2013

Sanibel Planning Commission members reviewed the staff’s report Tuesday on procedures for changing the list of permitted and conditional uses in the Land Development Code resulting from discussions during recent open meetings on the city’s commercial redevelopment project.

The panel was two members short as Chuck Ketteman and Tom Krekel had excused absences.

Commissioners continued to devise ways to streamline the process for the benefit of permit applicants with similar but not exact characteristics as other businesses and using city staff time more efficiently. Discussion also ensued about a business and its associated “mission,” using the example of a craft store wanting to offer a knitting class and should it require filing for a permit.

After some time, City Manager Judie Zimomra weighed in on the discussion to clarify what she was hearing about a “pipeline report” – essentially a heads-up about the type of applications just filed – or a subcommittee meeting to decide if the application should proceed to staff.

“In this day and age with digital technology, the city can email each of you about such an application and ask you for any questions you might have regarding it,” Zimomra said. “Then, we can build that into the staff report. A premeeting would not save applicants or the commission time, it would add to it.”

Vice Mayor Doug Congress, the liaison to the commission, broached the pipeline idea.

“A pipeline report might save time and give staff some direction before staff spends time on the application,” said Congress. “That way at least you would know what applications are coming down the pike.”

The subject of parking and traffic studies associated with most applications, especially those in a commercial zone and not in a residential zone, also was batted around.

“I object to traffic studies with every application,” said commissioner Chris Heidrich. “It seems that we could have a set standard for each type of business so they would not have to hire a firm from Tampa to come down and do a traffic study when we know what’s already available and necessary.”

The recent applications of Rosie’s Cafe and Sanibel Deli in the Palm Ridge Plaza were mentioned as examples. Both were required to have traffic studies with their applications to add more seating while neither was authorized to make changes to the plaza’s already non-conforming parking situation.

Parking recommendations associated with the commercial redevelopment project is a separate issue from permitted and conditional uses.

When all public and commission input was finished, Planning Director James Jordan was directed to draft the document ahead of the next commission meeting on Sept. 10 where it could then be approved for presenting to City Council.