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Planning commission OKs variances

By Staff | May 21, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Renderings of the public restroom on Tarpon Bay Road from the north, south, east and west.

The Sanibel Planning Commission recently approved a variance for a public restroom under construction on Tarpon Bay Road, as well as a variance to extend a residential boat dock.

At its May 14 meeting, the commission voted 6-0 to approve an application for a variance from the application of the flood-resistant construction requirements of the Florida Building Code to allow the lowest floor of the restroom building to be constructed below the base flood elevation. The building is proposed as an accessory use to a public parking lot at 205 Tarpon Bay Road, which is city-owned.

Josh Ooyman, a planner for the city, reported that the public restroom is being constructed in the northwest corner of the already developed southern half of the property. Approximately 400 square feet with three family-style bathrooms, it includes concrete access ways, shell paths and bike parking.

He explained that the building was designed to be ADA compliant. Without a variance allowing the ground floor to be below the base flood elevation, the facility could not provide the ADA access.

Staff recommended four conditions in its report if the application was approved.

PHOTO PROVIDED Renderings of the public restroom on Tarpon Bay Road from the north, south, east and west.

“The property is under construction right now,” Community Services Department Director Keith Williams said.

He explained that the “late hour” for the variance tied into FEMA regulations for base flood elevations on non-residential projects being vague. Some say a variance is not needed, but FEMA prefers one.

“In order to make sure we stay in the correct line with FEMA,” Williams said. “We’re bringing before you a variance.”

The project is being paid for with Lee County Tourist Development Council funds.

During discussion, Chair Chuck Ketteman suggested including with the staff conditions a general condition on removing non-native vegetation like what is imposed on other proposed projects.

The commission voted to approve the project including it and the other conditions.

Also at the meeting, the commissioners voted 6-0 to approve an application for a variance to allow for the extension of a dock and relocation of a boat lift at a single-family home at 6195 Henderson Road to extend waterward farther than the maximum permitted waterward extension limit as measured from the approximate mean high water line of the abutting Dinkins Bayou. The application was submitted by Stemic Enterprises on behalf of the property owners, Stephen T. and Elizabeth H. Hay.

Staff reported that the application stems from water depth challenges. The owners are having trouble docking during low tide, so they are proposing extending the dock and walkway access by 8 feet.

Alternatives like dredging the shallow area and relocating the dock were considered.

Staff noted that the proposal would have no impact on mangrove vegetation.

Stephen Hay reported that they were comfortable with the conditions outlined in the staff report.

The commission voted to approve the application.