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COTI keynote speaker urges full impact fees

By Staff | Mar 25, 2015

New COTI Board members (L to R) Maureen Watson, Mike Miller, Treasurer Carolyn Swiney, President David Bath, Vice President Mike Gillespie, Joe Salatino, Larry Schopp and Peter Pappas (not shown, Stuart Langton). Chris Koerner

Wayne Daltry has seen, if not all of it, certainly most of it.

For 20 years, he was the executive director of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, responsible for planning services for a six-county area.

Then he spent eight years as the director of the Lee County Smart Growth Initiative.

And as keynote speaker at COTI’s Annual Meeting last week, his message was clear: We need to restore full impact fees for Lee County.

Daltry took the COTI audience through a tour of Southwest Florida development — from the time of the Calusa Indians, who themselves engaged in “digging and dredging,” right up to the present, where we still deal with water quality issues and problems of development.

Jim Beauchamp receiving a Luc Century vase in honor of his dedicated service as President of COTI for the past year. Presenting the vase is COTI board member Wayne Ponader. Chris Koerner

When it comes to expanding our infrastructure to keep up with population growth, he pointed to the old shibboleth: “You can pay me now or pay me later.”

And Daltry made the persuasive case that it makes more sense – and gets far better results – to pay now.

Impact fees, he illustrated, are the fairest and most effective way to see that our infrastructure – roads, schools, parks, etc. – keeps up with Lee County’s growing population, which Daltry projects to reach just over one million when all existing lots are developed.

In light of the ongoing controversy over the reduction of Lee County impact fees, Daltry struck a responsive chord with the COTI audience, drawing frequent laughter with his sense of humor and anecdotes and sustained applause when he concluded his remarks.

In other COTI business, the membership elected the following directors to the COTI Board: Mike Gillespie, Mike Miller, Joe Salatino, Larry Schopp, Carolyn Swiney, and Maureen Watson.

COTI meeting keynote speaker Wayne Daltry. Chris Koerner

The new board then elected David Bath as its new president, Mike Gillespie as vice president, and Carolyn Swiney as treasurer.

COTI also presented its 2014 Citizen of the Year award, which goes to “an outstanding contributor to our Sanibel community.”

This year’s recipient was Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane.

Four main points helped in determining Ruane as the Citizen of the Year and they included:

n Defend the Vision Statement and Land Development Code.

n Made significant progress on water quality issues improved the finances of the City of Sanibel.

n Improved the finances of the City.

n Made other contributions that strong support COTI’s mission of “Keeping Sanibel Special.”

COTI president Jim Beauchamp also went over some of COTI’s 2014 accomplishments.

“I have observed, that the community and city of Sanibel is a true democracy in which our voices have impact on important decisions and produce tangible results,” Beauchamp said. “Through cooperative action, your voice can be heard and acted on to help ensure your quality of life.

“COTI represents the interest of residents, snowbirds, repeat visitors and property owners, while seeking to ensure the economic viability of the island.”

Some actions COTI has supported the City Council of improving Sanibel included prohibiting large buses from bringing day-trippers to the beaches; created a rigorous permitting process for on-island bus tour services and for floating docks and a newly revised Dark Skies ordinance.

COTI membership has increased by over 40-percent since 2013, as well.

“Thank you to all of you who have ‘let your voice be heard’ by sending emails to the City Council, the Lee County Commissioners or State political leaders,” Beauchamp concluded. “Let’s all work together to keep Sanibel special for the next 40 years.”