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Council OKs waste, dredge assessments

By Staff | Aug 27, 2019

The Sanibel City Council approved the annual rate and special service assessment for the collection and disposal of solid waste, recyclables and horticultural waste for the upcoming fiscal year, as well as approved the rate and assessment for the Shell Harbor and Sanibel Estates canal area dredging.

At a special meeting on Aug. 20, the council voted 4-0 in support of two resolutions related to reimposing the annual assessment for solid waste, recyclables and horticultural waste for 2019-2020. The costs are $304.72 for the curbside collection and disposal or $402.04 for backdoor service.

Prior to the vote, City Attorney John Agnew explained that one property had requested an adjustment from backdoor service to curbside, which reduces the total assessments collected to $1,254,450.92.

The council also voted 4-0 in support of two resolutions for the annual rate and special service assessment to fund the dredging of the entrance canal of Shell Harbor and the residential dredging analysis of other internal canals and the entrance of the Shell Harbor and Sanibel Estates area canal area assessment district and to fund, as needed, future dredging analyses of internal area canals.

Agnew noted for the council that there was a requested adjustment to this, as well.

He explained that the residents and marina have always paid 100 percent of the levied assessments related to the dredging and the listed one-time retroactive assessment against the marina aims to recoup additional payments that the city had covered. The marina requested an adjustment in the retroactive assessment from $53,852 to $35,520.

Agnew continued that the reduction in the retroactive assessment, combined with an $18,000 reoccurring annual assessment, reduces the total collected from the marina from $71,852 to $53,520. As a result, the total assessments collected from the dredging district will decrease to $72,920.

After the marina objected to the proposed retroactive assessment at last month’s council meeting, Mayor Kevin Ruane reported that he would sit down with the involved parties again to try and reach an agreement. Prior to the vote, he thanked Agnew, the HOAs and marina’s attorney for their efforts.

“I want to stay on top of this as best we can,” Ruane said of future dredging.

Attorney Beverly Grady, who represented the marina, spoke during public comment.

“The marina has always recognized the importance of this dredging,” she said, adding that her client consents to what was agreed upon and requests approval of the resolutions.

Also at the special meeting, Councilmember Holly Smith presented a draft ordinance on short-term rentals. Focused on cementing the city’s rule that vacation rentals cannot be rented out for less than four weeks, the language centers around setting up a registration for dwelling rentals and rental licenses.

“This ordinance does not affect or put at risk our grandfathered ordinance,” she said, noting that it addresses frequency and length of stay for vacation rentals. “To preserve the character and residence of our residential neighborhoods.”

Smith explained that platform vacation rentals, like Airbnb, are not in compliance with the city’s existing zoning regulations, are unregulated and are having a vast impact on communities statewide. She continued that the draft ordinance sets up a separate registration process to track such rentals.

“And ensure these rentals stay in compliance with the city’s existing laws,” Smith said.

The others on the dais voiced support for the proposal.

“This is a really important item,” Ruane said. “This is really an issue we need to keep track of.”

Councilmember Richard Johnson agreed.

“I think this is a threat to our community and way of life,” he said of the rentals.

Councilmember Jason Maughan echoed that sentiment.

“There are particular neighborhoods that are suffering an identity crisis,” he said.

The council voted 4-0 to move the draft forward to its first reading.

IN OTHER NEWS

– A first reading was held for an ordinance related to the Below Market Rate Housing that would update the income eligibility criteria for applicants from 120 percent of the area median income to “up to 160 percent of the median income for the county.”

– A first reading was held for an ordinance that would amend the Sanibel Code and prohibit the use of micro-mobility devices, motorized scooters and mopeds on the city’s sidewalks and shared use path.

– Ruane proposed the idea of having staff also prepare the budget for the council’s first hearing with the rolled-back rate, so the dais could compare the numbers. A motion was made and passed in a 4-0 vote.