Ruane, Denham re-elected as mayor and vice mayor of city council
The Sanibel City Council re-elected its mayor and vice mayor at last week’ meeting, as well as approved a floodplain management ordinance and one amending city building regulations.
On April 3, Mayor Kevin Ruane and Vice Mayor Mick Denham were re-elected to their previous positions by the council. A sitting member since 2007, Ruane has served as the council’s mayor since 2010. Denham, elected to the council in 2005, has served consecutively as vice mayor since 2015.
“I think he’s done an outstanding job in the last year,” Denham said when nominating Ruane.
Councilman Chauncey Goss received a nomination from Councilman Jason Maughan.
“I believe in the rotation of positions on the council,” Maughan said of the move.
Ruane, Denham and Councilwoman Holly Smith voted in support of the nomination for Ruane as mayor, while Goss and Maughan voted for Goss. A vote to re-elect Ruane passed in a 5-0 vote.
Nominated by Ruane, Denham was the only name put forward for vice mayor.
The council voted unanimously in favor of the nomination and re-election.
An ordinance to amend the city code to accommodate the mandatory adoption of a new Chapter 94, which establishes a floodplain management ordinance and regulations for Sanibel, passed in a 5-0 vote. The ordinance also entailed adopting a new map that shows the additional, coastal high hazard areas.
The ordinance, based on a Florida Division of Emergency Management model, is consistent with regulations from the Florida Building Code, Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Flood Insurance Program. It preserves the city’s status and rating in the NFIP’s Community Rating System, keeping in place a 25 percent discount on flood insurance premiums for property owners.
As part of the repeal and replacement of Chapter 94, city staff were required to analyze “any flood provisions historically required” that could not be included, according to a memo by Building Official Harold Law. Only one requiring storage areas be limited to two separate enclosures was found.
The provision targeted walls below the design flood elevation, or elevated floor.
To preserve the storage partitioning rule, a second ordinance was proposed that amended the city’s building and buildings regulations to include it as a “technical amendment.” It also proposed revising several articles within the code to remove any “inapplicable, redundant or pre-empted provisions.”
Law noted in his memo, however, that “upon further review, I have determined that the partition provision cannot be adopted as a technical amendment” as written in the ordinance. He recommended that the council approve the ordinance to update city code, but remove the “partition language.”
City Attorney Ken Cuyler reiterated the staff recommendation during the meeting.
“So we won’t have that partition requirement,” he said.
The council voted 5-0 to approve the ordinance without the partition section.
Also at the meeting, the council voted unanimously to allow the sale of alcohol at the Seahorse Festival, being held by The Sanibel School’s PTA on May 5 at the Sanibel Community Park.
The item was pulled from last month’s meeting agenda due to a concern over parking.
Maughan, who worked with the PTA and city staff to address the issues voiced by council at the previous meeting, provided the others on the dais with an update before the vote was taken.
“We have excess parking,” he said. “We have excess security.”
He noted that once council approved the sale of alcohol, the PTA could submit its application to Florida’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives the final action to be taken.
On a side note, Maughan recommended that the PTA plan more in advance next year.
“I think we fought through this on this particular occasion,” he said. “Everybody really pulled together and gave everything they possibly could.”
Denham voiced concern about the sale of alcohol at a family event, where teens could be present. He questioned what measures were in place to control the alcohol sales and prevent underage drinking.
City Manager Judie Zimomra reported that there will be a police officer stationed near the alcohol booth and those of drinking age will receive a hand stamp, unlike bracelets that can be removed.
In a 5-0 vote, the council also approved a resolution on fees related to contractors’ licensing.
During the meeting, Ruane asked for the council’s support to continue working with the finance director on researching lines of credit through the Florida League of Cities’ loan council and local banks. With its emergency reserves depleted, the city is waiting on reimbursements from FEMA.
“We’re heading into hurricane season,” he said.
The council voted unanimously for Ruane and staff to continue its work.
During public comment, Karen Storjohann questioned the amount held within the reserves.
“While this is all well and good, it’s not too soon to think about the fact that we might need to have our reserves higher,” she said. “$4.5 million sounds like a lot of money until the bills come in.”
Ruane also floated the idea of streamlining some of the city’s departments and services. He explained that some communities now have a “community services” department, which consists of public works, building and planning under one umbrella, rather than having three separate autonomous departments.
“We could expedite the processes we go through,” Ruane said.
He noted that it could better align the departments and their software, as well as cut overlap.
“It would streamline things and make it much more efficient,” Ruane said, adding that it would be more user-friendly for the public. “I just think there is an overlap in some of those services.”
Denham and Smith voiced interest in the idea.
The council voted 5-0 for city staff to come up with a plan, with the specifics outlined.
James Evans, director of the Natural Resources Department, provided a water quality update.
“The beaches look really good right now,” he said. “Overall, the water clarity is good.”
Evans reported that a patch of red tide remains along the coastline from Charlotte to Collier counties. He noted that fish kills were reported on Sanibel the first two weeks of March, but have cleared up.
“Hopefully, the red tide is behind us as the water continues to warm up,” Evans said.
IN OTHER NEWS
– Sanibel police Detective John Eicher was named the Employee of the Second Quarter. In addition, Life Saving Awards were presented to Officer Magdiel Bernier for a Jan. 25 incident and Officers Matthew Casola, Korey McCloughen and Michelle Rose for a Feb. 21 incident.
– Ruane reported that the city has been encouraged by state officials to come up with three projects needing funding that are not water quality related as there are monies available. He will work with the others on council and city staff to come up with some projects.
– Council approved an agreement between the city and Andrew Entwistle for the construction of a sewer lift station as part of the Woodring Road portion of the Phase 4 Sewer Assessment District.
– Council voted to award the Bowman’s Beach Park Dune Walkover Replacement Project contact to Bayshore Construction for $62,102.
– Council approved a request from the Island Seniors for a waiver of the application and police service fees for the annual Trash and Treasure Sale on Nov. 3 and the annual Arts and Crafts Fair on Feb. 2.
– The council voted 5-0 for city staff to work on a lease renewal for the existing Farmer’s Market.