County denies CCP’s request for $50K in grant funding
The Captiva Community Panel will follow up with Lee County officials after learning that a grant request for additional funding to continue its work on updating the Captiva Code was denied.
At its July 10 meeting, the panel was made aware of a response by Lee County Department of Community Development Director David Loveland to its request for $50,000 for community planning for fiscal year 2018-2019 to be used for ongoing work amending the Land Development Code.
“He denied the request,” President David Mintz told the other panel members.
According to the document, Loveland states that he was asked by Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais to respond to the panel’s request. He explains that as part of the overhaul of the Lee County Comprehensive Plan authorized in 2015, a re-evaluation of community plans has been a focus.
“This included discussions at work sessions in May 2016 and March 2017 about the direction, which outlined goals related to eliminating redundancies; establishing common procedures; shifting regulatory provisions to the Land Development Code (LDC), where they belong; updating or removing provisions that do not protect a public interest, or are not supported by data and analysis; and correcting vague provisions that might be unenforceable or create legal liabilities,” Loveland stated.
He explained that a two-step approach was authorized, with the first being to create a consolidated Community Planning sub-Element within the Lee Plan via an administrative amendment to establish common procedures for informational meetings and to eliminate redundancies – adopted June 20.
Loveland continued that the second step is a visioning process, a multi-year effort by staff to meet with each community and re-visit their future vision and work on an updated Lee Plan and LDC language that is clear and concise and achieves the county’s goals and goals of each of the involved communities.
He pointed out that one of the goals under the administrative amendment effort was to delete an administrative code that established the basis for providing grants to community planning groups to hire consultants to develop and update community plans’ language and related LDC regulations.
“There have been some concerns about the implementation of the grant program in the past, with little or no control by the county of the hiring or expenditures, and spotty results on deliverables,” he stated.
Since the program’s inception in 2001, a total of $2.3 million has been spent. According to Loveland, the last grant was to the panel to update the Community Plan provisions in the Lee Plan and LDC.
“This grant was awarded in 2013 for $50,000, and it took more than five years to complete work,” he stated. “Just this past February, the board adopted the updated Lee Plan provisions for Captiva. LDC regulations were not provided.”
Loveland continued that the Department of Community Development did not include grant funding in its operating budget for fiscal year 2017-2018 and has not proposed any funding for next year based on the stated goals. In addition, an agenda item to delete the related administrative code has been drafted.
He concluded by addressing the panel’s request for the additional $50,000.
“Consideration of this request would be inconsistent with the discussions and changes implemented in the last two years and open the door for other communities to request grant funding, too,” Loveland stated. “All commissioners have been briefed regarding the proposed revisions to (the administrative code) to provide better controls by the county over the use of the county funds, which will be the last step in the administrative amendment process and coming to the board after the July recess.”
Members of the panel voiced concern over the county’s response.
“To me, this seems larger than whether or not we’re going to get $50,000,” Panel Member Jay Brown said. “This kind of sounds to me like county staff doesn’t value our kind of organizations.”
He questioned if it is an indication that the county is less likely to listen to the panel in the future.
“I think they would like to have a code and a plan that doesn’t have exemptions for communities like Captiva,” Mintz said, adding that they are harder to manage and educate the public, even staff, on.
“I think there’s a natural resistance to it,” he said. “But I think they are prepared to work with us.”
Secretary Mike Mullins pointed out a previous time when the county did not support local advisory committees. He added that the Captiva Plan took five years because of county staff, not the panel.
“I don’t want to see them pull the rug out from under the effort that we are making,” Mullins said.
Mintz reported that he was approached in the past by county commissioners asking if he would help out with community planning in other areas of Lee because of the exceptional work by the panel.
“If we get money, everybody else is going to stick their hand out for money, and I think that’s their concern,” he said of the county’s recent denial.
Vice President Mike Borris agreed.
“They’re concerned about the precedential nature of this,” he said.
The panel voted 9-0 to have Mintz draft a response to Loveland, and include Lee County Commissioner John Manning, to appeal the county’s denial or to re-request the funds.
Also at the meeting, a presentation was provided to the panel on plans for The Gold Parrot, an upcoming retail store that will occupy the building where Chloe’s of Captiva once sat. Joe Fenoglio, president of the business, explained that a new covered patio will be installed facing the street.
“We’re doing a little bit of renovation on the building,” he said.
The patio will extend eight feet farther into the front lot.
“It makes it more welcoming as people walk by,” Fenoglio said of the new entrance.
He explained that he purchased the building from the owner of the former Chloe’s of Captiva and the two have been working together to make it a smooth transition from one retail business to another.
“It’s going to be a retail apparel store,” Fenoglio said of The Gold Parrot.
Chloe’s of Captiva carried women’s apparel, while the new store will have some of everything.
“The new store will be men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, as well as some housewares,” he said. “There will be also be watches and fine jewelry.”
Fenoglio is hoping to have the business open for season.
“We’re trying to do it as quick as possible,” he said of the renovation.
IN OTHER NEWS
– Panel Member Mike Lanigan reported that the new website is ready to go. The committee is waiting on the developer to hand it off to Administrator Ken Gooderham when he returns from his vacation.
“I’m sure by the end of the month, it’ll be on,” he said.
– Captiva Island Fire Control District Fire Chief Jeff Pawul reported that owners and property managers of rental units need to make sure there are fire extinguishers set up in their units.
“We’ve had a bunch of kitchen fires later,” he said.
Pawul noted that renters have asked why no fire extinguishers are present.
“Make sure they have them and make sure they’re visible,” he said.