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CCP covers golf cart zone, wastewater and more

By Staff | Feb 18, 2020

TIFFANY REPECKI Captiva Community Panel Member Jay Brown, chair of the Wastewater Committee, talks about the panel’s recent public workshop on wastewater alternatives during its Feb. 11 meeting.

The Captiva Community Panel discussed Lee County’s move to extend the island’s golf cart zone and how the panel’s public meeting on wastewater alternatives went, as well as heard a presentation about an upcoming construction project at South Seas Island Resort, during its monthly meeting.

On Feb. 11, panel President David Mintz reported that the county recently issued an order stating that the existing golf cart zone would be extended to ‘Tween Waters Island Resort on Captiva Drive effective on Feb. 19. He added that the county reported the change had been initiated by the panel.

“Which is not exactly accurate,” Mintz said.

The possibility of extending the zone has been a discussion item at recent CCP meetings, raised by ‘Tween Waters – the only commercial property not included within the area. At last month’s meeting, the panel split its first vote on the matter 5-3 to relay to Lee County that it supported the extension.

Mintz explained that some on the CCP had voted yes because they believed the next step would be for the county to conduct a safety study, as it had done in prior years when the subject had been raised.

“I thought the DOT (Department of Transportation) would do an independent traffic study,” he said.

Safety concerns have been the biggest issued raised in opposition to the extension.

Mintz told the panel that he spoke to DOT officials and asked about a study.

“They are not doing an independent traffic safety study,” he said. “They don’t feel the need to do that.”

According to Mintz, county officials reported that they were contacted following last month’s vote and informed the CCP supported the extension. The county decided if the panel wanted it, it would do it.

He explained that the zone extension will be the same as what the Village has.

“This is a conditional approval,” Mintz said. “They will monitor it.”

“I’m hopeful that it can be done safely,” he added. “If not, we’ll find out.”

Following the update, Mintz proposed that the CCP’s discussion moving forward should be how to make golf cart usage safer on the island, like considering seat belts, lighting or age restrictions.

Treasurer Antje Baumgarten suggested that the panel form a committee to look at safety.

“We have a serious problem,” she said. “We have a serious concern, especially with kids.”

Panel Member Mike Mullins asked if the rental companies could put restrictions in place.

“Enforcing is a different issue, but they could say it,” he said.

Panel Member Mike Kelly reiterated another concern raised in recent months.

“I think the safety issue is really key, as well as night-time use,” he said, explaining that the panel’s votes for approval were for the “concept” of expansion. “We didn’t get a chance to do that piece of it.”

Mintz explained that in his opinion, there are two things the CCP can do at this point: recommend to Lee County changes to the island’s existing golf cart ordinance on things like age, seat belts and lighting, and recommend restrictions to the rental companies they can put in place to increase safety.

“And we can work with them on this to self-police,” he added.

The panel agreed to set up a safety committee to discuss the matter.

Community members interested in joining the committee can contact the CCP.

WASTEWATER PUBLIC MEETING

Panel Member Jay Brown, chair of the Wastewater Committee, reported that the CCP held its public workshop on Jan. 28 and shared with attendees its findings and alternatives on wastewater management for the island. About 75 to 100 people attended and were asked to fill out a survey for their opinions.

“I think the meeting went pretty well,” he said, adding that the feedback has basically been positive.

Brown continued that following the workshop, however, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation released a report disagreeing with the findings of the study completed by panel consultant David Tomasko, of Environmental Science Associates. He had studied the potential health and environmental risks associated with septic systems, potential pollution concerns, and how the island’s current septic tanks would function in the face of rising sea levels and groundwater levels.

“They think that David Tomasko significantly underestimated the nutrient loads,” he said, explaining that Tomasko had utilized data from a SCCF study from 2010 to come to some of his conclusions.

“They have differing thoughts on how the data should be interpreted,” Brown added.

For example, Tomasko looked at the impact of nutrient loads on coastal waters. The SCCF reported that he also should have considered the impact of nutrient loads to air and groundwater. In addition, the SCCF pointed out that there are more people on Captiva now then when it conducted its 2010 study.

Brown reported that Tomasko has prepared a written response to SCCF’s report. He told the panel that he also scheduled a meeting with the SCCF to better understand its opinion on Tomasko’s findings.

In terms of next steps, Brown proposed conducting a straw poll of property owners.

“I’ll work on that over the next couple of weeks,” he said.

Brown also suggested scheduling a public hearing for the panel to specifically discuss wastewater and come to a recommendation for the island’s future approach to it, whether it be to maintain the status quo or switch to a central sewer system. He noted that the public could then participate in the process.

“Then whatever we find that would trigger the next steps,” Brown said.

SOUTH SEAS ISLAND RESORT PROJECT

Bill Morris, of Morris-Depew Associates, provided the panel with a presentation about plans to demolish two buildings at King’s Crown at the resort and replace them with one structure. Joined by the project’s architect, he explained that the buildings had been damaged during Hurricane Irma.

“For a variety of reasons, they were unrepairable under the current Code,” Morris said.

The resort has since been working on plans to replace the two structures with one new building, which will be constructed to the new Code and updated to match the resort’s newer facade and aesthetics. He explained that the single building will serve as an events and conference center, plus for ancillary uses.

Following the presentation, some on the CCP questioned the height of the new building.

Morris explained that they are bound by the resort’s administrative interpretation of height requirements and that the resort has stricter lower requirements that the rest of Captiva.

The operating schedule for the project is have it built within 12 months.

IN OTHER NEWS

– Mintz reported that Lee County has agreed to allow the panel to postpone its petition drive for a year related to iguana control. Rather than an April 1 deadline, the CCP now has until April 2021 to work toward gaining enough support in the community to establish an MSTU to pay for the control services.

– Mintz reported that Lee County “did not have a positive reaction” to the panel’s suggestion of dividing up the two sides of Blind Pass Bridge – one side for pedestrians and bicycles, one side for fishing – in response to the county’s proposal of putting up concrete barriers to form a new lane.

“I think, at this point, we need to draft a letter from the panel,” he said, explaining that the letter then should be sent out to all of the county commissioners. “I think we need to send a strong letter.”

Mintz also suggested reaching out to Sanibel for its possible support.

– Mintz reported that letters have been sent out to property owners outlining the panel’s proposed changes to the Captiva Code. Any public feedback will be compiled and shared at a future meeting.

– This year’s Monday after the Masters fundraiser is set for April 13 at South Seas.