Committee of the Islands

Keeping Sanibel Special Since 1975

Winter 2008 Newsletter

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January 01, 2008

Winter 2008 COTI News etter ~ essage from President Larry Schopp As we begin the new year , let us all remember or members , particularly those with special skills thatthe City ofSanibel and conwere born out ofthe talents , to participate on committees . The result rush toward development and commercialization should be a stronger , more member oriented which followed the opening ofthe first causeway . The organization . of change has certainly slowed in the ensuing pace years , thanks to past leadership which gave us the As we began preparations for our March nationally acclaimed Sanibel Plan and the Land that the annual meeting we were struck by the fact ofour land use Development Code which are the basis challenges faced by the organization haven''t changed very much in the thirty - eight years we policy . However , over - development and over ­ commercialization remain a threat , albeit at a slower have been in existence . What better way to bring pace and in a more insidious way . When concessions that message home than to have as our guest of expediency we run the risk are made for reasons speaker someone who was there at the beginning that , over time , the exceptions will become the rule and can describe the fight for incorporation and and the character of our cherished island will be home rule . We are truly delighted that Porter Charter Amendments which were compromised . The ofthe leaders in the effort to incorporate Goss , one that does not adopted in 2005 will help insure and Sanibel''s tint mayor has been invited to speak happen , by requiring - voter approval for changes to at '' this years annual meeting . He , along with Alex basic land use policies . Our challenge , as 2008 begins , Werner , President of the Sanibel Historical is to insure that those protections are not whittled Museum and Village , will remind us why the effort away or circumvented in the name of progress or for to control land use is as importanttoday as itwas in the sake ofexpediency . 1974 . of , the con Board certain At a recent meeting Ifyou share our commitment to the values initiatives were agreed upon to increase member of Sanibel''s founders and are not already a involvement . First , we will be conducting a survey in member , please take this opportunity to join the near future , via the internet , to learn more about COTI , the only organization ofits kind on Sanibel , the views of people throughout Sanibel on issues of devoted to the continuity ofgood government and current interest . You can learn more about the survey preservation of the sanctuary character of our elsewhere in this newsletter . Second , we have Island . In addition to benefits such as e - mail news expanded the work of some of our standing alerts and special update mailings , as a member committees to reOect expanding areas ofconcern . For you will be able to attend the annual membership example , what had been the Traffic Committee is now meeting on March 26 at the Sanibel the Island Congestion Committee . The Water Quality Congregational Church . A membership Committee is now the Environment Committee . I''m application is included on page 8 ofthis newsletter . sure you get the idea . We have to adjust to changing of the pool of realities . Finally , to take advantage Sincerely , talent represented by ourmembership we are inviting Larry Schopp , President SA ~ IBfL BUDOfT ~ fWS The State of Florida''s tax reform package of late spring 2007 required Sanibel to reduce its millage rate by a minimum of9 % . In fact the Sanibel budget millage rate was reduced by 12 % , from 2.5000 in 2006 / 7 to 2.1966 in 2007 / 08 ; the City''s operating budget was cut from $ 50,368,972 to $ 40,406,126 , a reduction of 20 % . This was made possible largely by a reduction of $ 14,000,000 in Capital Funds for the new Recreation Center , approved by referendum and now taxed as a voted debt line ratherthan a millage rate on our ad valorem property taxes . Looking forward , there is strong pressure on Council to develop a red drift algae control plan that could be implemented as fast as possible should we again experience excessive algae on the beaches as occurred during 2007 . $ 1 million was reserved in the budget for potential cleanup . Council has responded with an aggressive testing program to be undertaken , if permitted , whenever we have significant amounts ofalgae on the beaches . The ongoing costs ofthis erratic and perplexing problem obviously cannot be assessed atthis time . Against this background on Sanibel''s budget , the City Manager reports continued major cost issuesonthehorizon , includingthefollowing : abacklog ofroutinemaintenance ofroadandshared - use paths ; higher crime trends ; the cost of developing plans of the Periwinkle Way West District ; maintenance ofnew infrastructure since 2000 ( sewer system , park facilities , historical structures , and the new recreation center ) ; and finally the increased costs ofmanaging ever - changing communication and technology demands . The combination ofnew State laws controlling millage increases , and the outcome ofthe January 29,2008 referendum on property taxes , are likely to critically affect the funds available from County and State sources , as well as the funds assessed on Sanibel residents for County services . To deal with these inevitable constraints , COTI''s focus at this point is to advocate for an improvement in the process used by the City in preparing its annual budget . Council members have spoken of the difficulty of extensive review of individual budget items during the normal time­constrained budget approval process . We suggest that the City institute a pilot program of zero - based budgeting . In zero - based budgeting ( ZBB ) , every department function is reviewed comprehensively and all expenditures must be approved , rather than only increases from the previous year . ZBB requires that each individual budget item request be justified in complete detail by the department manager . Such a trial program could be introduced in one department well before the usual budget process is undertaken so that a less hurried and more thorough review could be performed . __ I I Redevelopment on Sanibel now dense Is too dense - how big Is too big ? In late 2005 , City Council directed the Planning Department to implement a work program to address redevelopment on the island . The primary objective is to encourage redevelopment of aging , non - conforming properties without lessening standards but by finding new routes for attaining standards . Four classes of properties are included in this part of the work program ; 1 . Commercial buildings in the commercial district , 2 . Resort hotel , motel and related accommodations , 3 . Residential structures in the Gulf Beach Zone and 4 . Single family residential construction . In addition the Planning Department was asked to consider a plan for redevelopment ofthe " Town Center " otherwise known as " Periwinkle Way West " - the area around City Hall , Big Arts and the Library and to take a fresh look atthe issue ofwhat is sometimes called " inappropliately sized " homes . Work to address the four identified classes of properties has not proceeded as quickly as we had anticipated . No actual proposals have yet been put forth by the Planning department . However , with input from the consulting fmn ofWallace , Roberts & Todd , some preliminary proposals for part of Periwinkle Way West are being considered by the Planning Commission and City Council . The principal focus ofthese proposals is the Nave property and adjoining parcels occupied by St . Michael''s Church , The School House Theater and Big Arts . The two proposals which have received most serious consideration thus far , " Town Center Today " and " Sanibel Commons " would , if adopted , create greater unification of the parcels in question . However , that increased unification would come at a price . It would involve significant changes to existing land use law . First , to encourage what is known as " mixed use " , that is to say , the integration ofcommercial and residential uses ona givenparcel , bothplanscall forthewaiver ofaprovision oftheLandDevelopment Code which , to discourage over - development ofa parcel , requires a property owner to chose between full commercial or full residential development . ( Commercial properties may be used for both purposes ) . Here is how it works . An owner must give up 1000 sq . ft . ofcommercial space for every dwelling unit constructed on a commercial parcel . The effect is to prevent use of a parcel for both maximum commercial and residential purposes . Both plans under consideration would eliminate that provisionas to the properties in that district . The second proposal , " Sanibel Commons " would , in addition to dropping the 1000 sq . ft . penalty , allow an increase in the residential density permitted on the Nave property by " shifting " density allocations from the adjoining institutional properties to the Nave property . Under the Sanibel Plan residential density is to be allocated by ecological zone , on a parcel by parcel basis . Additionally , it is unclear whether owners of developed institutional parcels are entitled to transfer residential development rights . At ajoint meeting ofthe City Council and Planning Commission on January 15,2008 , Council members and Commissioners rejected the proposals to drop the 1000 sq . ft . penalty as well as any increase in allowable residential density on the Nave property . Instead , they directed the Planning Departmentto work withthe affected property owners in hopes ofarriving at a workable visionfor the districtwithinexistingdensity / intensity parameters . Atthemeeting conspokeinopposition to increasing residential density on the Nave property . I Water Quality Over the course of the past several months , interesting progress has been made in the overwhelming effort to deal with the water quality crisis surrounding our islands . Most notably , the ongoing drought has contributed to clearing up our coastal waters . Seagrasses have begun to recover from the onslaught ofpollutants from Lake Okeechobee discharges in 2004 and 2005 . Fishing has improved , and birds have returned . Even the water in J . N . " Ding " Darling National Wildlife Refuge has improved during the drought . Butmuchworkremainsto bedoneto helpensurethehealth ofourestuaryandcoastalwaters . The Army Corps of Engineers ( ACE ) is now finalizing plans for a storage reservoir near the Caloosahatchee . Although the South Florida Water Management District ( SFWMD ) is looking at the possibility ofacquiring land for a stormwater treatment area ( STA ) for this reservoir , the ACE did not includean STAinitsdraftdesigns . Elsewhere on the Caloosahatchee , closer to Lake Okeechobee , Lee County has contributed moneytowardthepurchase oflandthatwill be usedas a filtrationmarshtotreatsome lakewaterbefore it is released into the river . The SFWMD isproceeding withplans for this filtration marsh . This past Fall , Big Sugar tried to get the SFWMD to ask theACE to drop the new plan for Lake Okeechobeewaterdischargesthatwasdevelopedwithparticipation ofallaffectedparties . This new plan is to take effect in 2008 , and it offers a small improvement for the coastal estuaries . With the new appointments by Governor Cristto the SFWMD board , Big Sugar failed inthis attempt . Big Sugaralso asked the SFWMD to allow backpumping into the lake from the Everglades Agricultural Area this summer . The board , with its new appointees , said " no " to this backpumping request . This is after a federal judge inWest Palm Beachruled in June that the state''s practice ofback - pumping polluted water intoLakeOkeechobeewithoutapermitviolatestheU.S . CleanWaterAct . Taking advantage ofthe current low water levels , Lake Okeechobee managers removed some ofthe bottom muck only to fmd that it contains heavy metals and there is no good place to put it . It is now stockpiled ona cowpasture . TheCity ofSanibelhasdoneall itcan oneverywater - qualityfrontexceptthat inrecentyears , the City had not , evidently , been checking to see ifthe remaining private sewerpackageplant at Sanibel Bayous had state operating permits . That oversight has beencorrected , and nowthe City isproceeding with longstanding plans to acquire the Sanibel Bayous plant and to add its customers to the city sewer system . The federal WaterResources DevelopmentActwas finally passed inthe Fall , openingthe door to the possible funding of Everglades restoration projects that will help to enable the movement of water southfrom Lake 0 into the Everglades , instead ofinto ourestuary . Lee County may pass a fertilizer regulation that is similar to Sanibel''s , and Sarasota has approved one that is strict , modeled on Sanibel''s . The state has assembled a task force to examine the possibility of strengthening the state fertilizer law to help protect water quality . State Senator Dave Aronberg , who represents our area , is onthattask force . On Sanibel , bacterial pollution closed Bowman''s and Blind Pass beaches for a couple weeks in the Fall . COTI has writtento the City to ask for these additional tests inthe future : 1 . When the Lee County Health Department determines that pollution is present at one of our public beaches , more testing should be conducted for a few miles up and down the beach to determine the full extent ofthe area affected . In this way residents who frequent beaches closer to their homes than the public beaches could be afforded the same warnings and , therefore , the same level of protection as visitors . The fact that these pollution events are rare makes this additional testing reasonable and do­able . 2 . Under the current program for other evaluation ofbeach waters , bacterial studies include only fecal coliformandenterococci . Whiletheseareuseful indicators ofcontamination , they reveal nothingabout the possible presence ofdisease organisms that may be worrisome . When the beach waters test positive for significant levels of " indicator " bacteria , additional studies should be performed to rule out the presence ofhuman disease - causing bacteria and viruses which are known to occur in Florida marine waters . 3 . Finally , source tracking to identify origins of waterborne pathogens is possible and has been done elsewhere . We urge the City to work with the County Health Department or private laboratories to conduct source tracking during any future pollutionevents suchthe one we experiencedthis fall . COT ] hassentseveralActionAlertsviae - mailto its membersregardingwaterqualityissuesduring thepastyear . Ifyou have notbeen receivingtheseActionAlerts andwouldlike to bepartofthe solution to the water quality problems in our part ofFlorida , please be sure to send your e - mail address to us at coti @ coti.org . tilt , . . . '' " , , '' . til '' . . - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -­ now Is Sanibel Doing ? We''re conducting an Internet survey ofall Sanibel residents andyourparticipation is essentiaL Your anonymous responses will give us a clear picture of how you feel about important local issues , and will assure that COTI is aware ofyour priorities and concerns as it develops its agenda . PLUsr fiO TO : www.cotl.org Click on the survey link . Jfyou don''t have a computer you may obtain a copy of this survey at the Sanibel Library . Thank you for your participation . Committee on Island Congestion Committee on Island Congestion is the new title for the former Traffic Committee . The new name underlines Sanibel''s most important traffic problem , but does not mean we will ignore other issues . Start - and - stop travel on Periwinkle Way during the peak season is the bane of the Island . Recent years have seen a modest decrease in the numberofcars crossing the causeway , butthat trend stoppedwiththe opening ofthe new bridge inJune . In the six months following the opening , vehicles crossing the causeway increased 3 ~ % over the previous year . This represented a return to the 2005 levels . Some islanders fear that the new bridge , coupled with the widening and flyovers on Summerlin Road could bring us gridlock this season . City Council''s December 18 meeting marked an important new development on the traffic front . Council approved in principle the contract for a $ 700,000 study funded by the U . S . Department ofTransportation . The application ~ or the grant stated its objective as seeking , " alternatIve transportation options to reduce the number of vehicles entering environmentally sensitive property within the City ofSanibel and at the J . N . Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge . " The study includes money for ananalysis ofisland andrefuge carrying capacity thresholds . Sanibel , the Refuge and Lee County , through Lee Tran , have established a joint Steering Committee to oversee the study . Lee Tran will serve as the project manager and funding conduit . 1 ? e work will include data collection , probably dunng theMarch , 2008peakseason . Theplanprovides.for substantial public involvement . The fIrst task IS a review of available information and the design of studies to produce additional data needed . The public engagement program , the data collection and the carrying capacity assessment will feed the generation ofalternative options . The final stage of this grant is the evaluation of the options . If that process produces an action plan , there may also be grants available for implementation . COTI sees potential benefit for Sanibel in this grant . The data collection should help us understand the traffic situation better . We fmd the focus on carrying capacity encouraging . At the same time , we are concerned over the risk that inadequately considered changes focused on the Refuge might have unintended adverse effects on Island traffic overall . We plan to work with other interested groups to help channel the process constructively . We hope that the results ofthis effort can assist with the search for answers to our traffic congestionchallenge . He made it ! Oncoming traffic beware ! Three tries to turn . Pedestrians beware ! Perhaps a weigh station would help . The COTI Board of Directors COTI appreciates and values input from its members in our efforts to preserve our sanctuary Island . Ifyouhaveany suggestions orconcernsaboutany ofthecurrentactivities ofthe organization , please do not hesitate to contact the responsible Board member listed below . Larry Schopp : President , Chairperson , Redevelopment Committee ( larryschopp @ aol.com ) Barbara Cooley : Vice . . President , Chairperson , Environment Committee ( bjoycooley @ comcast.net ) Carla Benninga : Secretary ( carbenno @ yahoo.com ) David Bath : Treasurer , Chairperson , Budget Committee ( davbath @ aol.com ) John Harries : Chairperson , Membership Committee ( PreserveSanibel @ aol.com ) Dick Calkins : Chairperson , Appointments and Elections Committee ( rjcalkins42 @ aol.com ) Bob Winters : Chairperson , Committee on Island Congestion ( sanibelbob @ msn.com ) Jim Hanlon ( jhanlon @ comcast.net ) James LaVelle ( jamesclavelle @ aol.com ) Harvey Padewer ( harnanp @ aol.com ) Jane Picker ( spjmp @ att.net ) Karen Ural ( ura1k @ yahoo.com ) nAT8 orr TO COUNCIL The two years that have elapsed since the 2005 City Council elections brought with them major challenges and major accomplishments . We would like to review some ofthose accomplishments and offer our thanks to Council members who helped make them a reality : Enactment ofSanibel''s first comprehensive post . . disaster build back ordinance ; Enactment ofnew commercial district zoning regulations which will help to maintain the small town character ofSanibel by limiting the proliferation ofover . . sized formula retail establishments ; Long needed safety improvements to the shared use path on Periwinkle Way between the Sanibel Steak House and Casa Ybel Road ; Adoption ofan environmentally sound approach to dealing with red drift algae on our beaches . Enactment ofa ground breaking ordinance to limit excessive nutrient run off into our waters from fertilizers . This ordinance has become a model for other jurisdictions statewide . Following voter approval ofthe project , construction ofan attractive , functional recreation center , on schedule and within budget ; Finally , thanks to their tireless efforts , not only locally but at the regional and state levels , former Mayor Johnston and current Mayor Denham , have brought Sanibel recognition as a major contributor in the fight to protect not only our waters , but those ofall ofsouth Florida , from degradation . Our hats go offto you . PLEASE SUPPORT OUR EFFORTS TO PRESERVE SANIBEL''S SANCTUARY QUALITIES BY JOINING con AND PARTICIPATING IN ITS ANNUAL MEETING AND COMMmEE ACTIVmES . ROOM SIZE REQUIRES UMITING ANNUAL MEmNG ATTENDANCE TO con MEMBERS ONLY . JOINING IS EASY - SUBMIT THE APPUCATION BELOW WITH YOUR 2008 MEMBERSHIP FEE COTI MEMBERS · ANNUAL MEETING DATE : MARCH 26 , 2008 TIME : 9 : 00 AM PlACE : SANIBEL CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH 2050 PERIWINKLE WAY , SANIBEL SPEAKERS PORTER GOSS , FIRST MAYOR OF SANIBEL ALEX WERNER , PRES . , SANIBEL HISTORICAL SOClffi TOPIC THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SANIBEL PlAN AND lAND DEVELOPMENT CODE AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE TO SANIBEL TODAY REFRESMENTS WILL BE SERVED ( * WE WOULD PREFER A MAIL - IN APPLICATION BUT YOU MAY JOIN ATTHE DOOR ) r - - - - - C '' ; ; TI - - - -­ t APPLICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP Check the appropriate membership box : o $ 36 - - - Individual o $ 48 - - Family o $ 100 - - - Contributing o $ 250 - - Supporting o $ 650 - - Ufe Membership NAME : _ ADDRESS : _ CITY : . - - STATE : _ LOCAL PHONE : _ EMAIL : _ MAIL APPLICATION AND CHECK TO : COTI , BOX 88 , SANIBEL , FLORIDA 33957 DUES AND DONATIONS ARE NOT TAX DEDUCTIBLE Presortod Standard Postage paid Permit # 3S Sanibel Florida 339S7 ISLAND RESIDENT SANIBEL , FLORIDA 33957 Pd Pol . Adv . Paid for and sponsored by Committee ofthe I ~ Inc . ( Can ) P.O . Box 88 , Sanibel Florida 33957 I UI

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