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CCP hosts fourth, final public workshop

By Staff | Mar 30, 2018

TIFFANY REPECKI Panel Member Antje Baumgarten discusses one of the issues brought up by attendees on March 28 at the fourth and final public workshop hosted by the Captiva Community Panel.

From rental signs and a Dark Sky provision, to noise levels and branding Captiva as eco-friendly, attendees at the Captiva Community Panel’s final public workshop discussed a mix of topics.

As part of its Captiva Code update, the panel scheduled four workshops in February and March to obtain feedback from the community on a range of potential island-related issues. Property owners on Captiva were also asked to take part in an online survey so the panel could collect additional input.

Held on March 28, the fourth workshop focused on the island’s historic development pattern.

It also covered native trees, invasive pests and other lingering concerns of residents.

Resident Bill Abraham voiced an issue with rental and vacation rental signs. He pointed to the proliferation of them, adding that most are higher and closer to the road than they are allowed to be.

“None of them are that low,” Abraham said of the 12-inches-off-the-ground rule.

“They’re to be 2 feet behind the property line,” he added. “Most of them are about 2 inches.”

Abraham called the signs unattractive for the community.

“You drive down the street and they’re everywhere,” he said. “There’s never really been an enforcement, and everybody is out of compliance.”

Abraham also expressed concern about the overcrowding of vacation rentals.

“It’s becoming a vacation rental island,” he said, adding that the constant cycling in and out of new strangers living next door is a safety issue. “It’s very very concerning and disturbing to me.”

Panel President David Mintz explained that the members have routinely listened to the concern about rising vacation rentals in recent years. He said communities nationwide are experiencing the same.

Panel Member Mike Kelly echoed that.

“Everybody has the same complaints as you,” he told Abraham. “It’s definitely turning over to be a rental situation for almost every condominium association on the island.”

Resident Richard Sonking agreed.

“I think there’s a perspective that it’s a resort area and not residential,” he said. “You can understand why people think this is a resort community with all the for sale signs and rental signs.”

Resident Ann Brady voiced support for a Dark Sky provision.

She cited the stargazers and artists who visit the island.

“They can see the stars here at night. I think that’s something that we need to work hard to maintain,” Brady said. “It really does lend something very significant and special to this area. I’d hate to see that go away.”

Another resident noted that it tends to be vacationers who leave lights on at night.

“The renters aren’t aware,” she said. “They’ve got lights on all the way down, they’ve got their pool lights on.”

Panel Secretary Mike Mullins explained that he and some of his neighbors have installed motion detection lights along their docks to deter trespassers from fishing off of them at night.

“To me, the lights have a security implementation,” he said. “I think there’s implications if we go to a complete Dark Sky policy.”

Noise, specifically high levels from vacationers, was also brought up.

Panel Vice President Mike Boris said visitors may not know their neighbors are not on vacation.

“They’re not even aware the noise that they’re making is a problem,” he said.

One resident shared that an adjacent rental added ping pong tables and such to the lanai.

“I think a number of rentals are adding amenities that are a nuisance,” he said.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mike Sawicki explained that the bar for the county’s current noise ordinance is “pretty high,” with a “big difference” between what is annoying and what is a violation.

Mintz questioned if Captiva should establish a no noise rule after a set time, like 10 p.m.

Panel Member Antje Baumgarten asked about the reason behind no outside music.

“Are we this real quiet island? Is this where we’re aiming?” she questioned of the attendees for clarification. “Or is it just about the loud noise?”

The group indicated that it is the noise.

Resident Jim Restivo cautioned about changing the island’s atmosphere so much to the point that vacationers stop coming. He noted that tourists’ dollars help to keep island businesses open.

“I think there’s another side to that that we need to be aware of,” Restivo said.

One resident suggested that coming up with a brand or a campaign for Captiva might help to convey some of the issues raised by the community to visitors, like Sanibel has implemented on its welcoming sign and elsewhere. Things like it is “eco-friendly” and supports recycling and wildlife conservation.

Brady agreed, adding that the message should be relayed in a positive manner.

“So we’re not shoving it down people’s throats,” she said.

Mullins floated the idea of combining the “things to know” with “things to do.”

Representatives from the South Seas Island Resort, who attended the workshop, explained that informational packets are handed out to each staying customer, but no one ever reads them.

Other subjects discussed were drones, rabbits and green iguanas.

“I don’t like them. I don’t want them here,” Julia Grant said about drones. “I think it’s very invasive to have them zooming up and down the beach.”

As for the rabbits, Sawicki suggested checking with Fish and Wildlife Service first.

“They are a native species,” he said. “They’re marsh rabbits.”

Carla Restivo voiced more concern for invasive green iguanas and the damage they can do.

Panel Member Dave Jensen noted that a contractor can be hired to eradicate them.

“Boca Grande is also dealing with them. Sanibel’s been doing this for a few years now,” he said, adding that he has spoken to Sanibel’s contractor. “He feels he’s stabilized it, but he feels there’s no way he can get rid of them (completely).”

Mintz questioned if attendees had any concerns with some of the “gabled” roofs that are being built on newer houses that are nearly flat, an unintended consequence of the new building height provision.

“The roofs are barely angled and you basically have a box,” he said.

Mintz also asked about the removal of native trees.