Ask the Candidates

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In order to help Island Sand Paper readers learn more about Town Council candidates, we have asked them to answer a series of questions in their own words. This is our third and final question:

How well does the Town’s Comp Plan and Land Development Code currently serve the needs of the Town? 

 

hosafros, ask the candidates, fort myers beach, island sand pperRexann Hosafros’ response:

I believe we need to take an in depth look at both our comprehensive plan and land development code. I am pleased to see the recent discussions regarding this issue between the council and the LPA. However, I do not feel there is much sense of urgency in these discussions. This will be a long process which needs to be scheduled and moved along or it will drag on too long. These documents have not been treated as living documents. New developments have caused a need for updating, which has not been occurring with efficiency. Part of the fault for this delay has been the turnover of town managers, town attorneys and the staff of the community development department. Our changes to the LDC have happened in a haphazard fashion with one staff member starting a review and then another employee trying to finish the rewrite. I would like to see the LPA meeting more frequently and reviewing the LDC section by section. I have served as liaison to the charter review committee, which met frequently and moved through section by section. This document was much shorter, but the review would not have been completed in a timely manner without such an organized plan and stable, hardworking members.

 

boback, ask the candidates, fort myers beach, island sand pperDennis Boback’s response:

Overall I believe the Town’s Comp Plan and Land Development Code do serve the needs of the Town. Having said that there are several issues/glitches that should be cleaned up and made clearly understandable. The Town Council just recently had a joint meeting with the LPA and Town staff discussing some of the issues and how best to correct them. You sometimes have to look in several different places to determine what is allowed and what is not and update them where needed. These types of issues need to be put all in one section to make it clear and understandable for everyone. Some leave room for interpretation and they should be more specific so there is no ambiguity on what is and is not allowed.

As I said earlier the Town Council, LPA and staff are working together to do a thorough look at them and make changes where needed to make them more user friendly so everyone can understand them and leave no room for interpretation. While this process is underway it will not be a quick process so that we get it right the first time and make sure there are no unintended consequences. Once this is completed the Comp Plan and Land Development Code will serve the Town well into the future.

 

Dan Aller’s response:

The Town Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code document existing statutes and are the basis for enforcement actions, however the Council has a policy making role in which these documents should be just one of many factors considered in determining if components of these statutes need revisions. These statutes were written to reflect the culture, economy, investments and residency/visitor/seasonal mix of the community at a fixed point in time. It is the role of Town Council to review, debate and update these laws to reflect the current need and future trends.

One of the concerns I hear in my discussions with our community members is that the current board is fixated on the precise language of the existing code, and when changes are discussed the focus is specific to the individual circumstances with little discussion on where the community will be in 10-20 years. As we have seen, our community evolves, we can either continue to patch the statutes to address individual issues or we can have an informed Town-wide discussion of our future and ensure future revisions to our statutes are where we are going and less on where we are. Changes are inevitable and we will either continue to be reactive or we can determine our future and proactively manage it.

 

murphy, ask the candidates, fort myers beach, island sand pperRay Murphy’s response:

The  Comprehensive Plan and the Land Development Code were drafted between 1996 and 2004. While there have not been any amendments to the Comp Plan there have been several amendments to the LDC over the years to deal with new and/or unforeseen issues that have arisen in the Town. The original award winning plans were written before the current FEMA regulations which have resulted in increased building heights. They also didn’t contemplate the rapid change in real estate valuations with the resultant mansions replacing our traditional single family, one story cottages. These are just two of the many changes the LPA and Town Council are now addressing. The Comp Plan and Land Development Code are well drafted documents which meet the current needs of the Town but they are “living” documents which require constant review and revision when needed to accommodate changes in FEMA and Florida statutory regulations which preempt our Town codes, demographics and our needs in residential housing and commercial development along with our recreational demands.