County Officials Host Workshop

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SCI Community Plan

The Lee County Planning Department hosted a “San Carlos Island (SCI) Community Plan Workshop” on Wednesday afternoon at the Loyal Order of Moose Lodge #964 at 19090 San Carlos Boulevard, to present the SCI draft amendments to local residents, answer their questions and receive feedback.

The San Carlos Island Community Plan intends to manage island growth to promote commercial fishing and tourism industries, expand water-dependent uses, protect water resources and estuary water quality and encourage commercial redevelopment to serve the daily needs of San Carlos Island residents.

“The goal of this plan is to not only protect the integrity of the working waterfront characteristics of San Carlos Island but to enhance it,” said Mikki Rozdolski, Planning Manager for Lee County. “The SCI Water-Dependent Overlay encourages the continuance of water-dependent land uses and discourages their displacement by non-water-dependent ones. Anyone who attempts to develop a non-water-related business along the waterfront, specifically from north and south of Main Street as well as at the foot of the Matanzas Pass Bridge, will have to go through a multi-stage process, unlike now, as well as proving that they cannot conduct that enterprise at a different location that is not on the water.”

To allow a water-dependent land use to convert to a non-water-dependent one, Rozdolski explained, “a Lee Plan Amendment will be necessary to remove it from the Water-Dependent Overlay area. The proposed development must prove it will not negatively impact the operation of a water-dependent use of an adjacent property, it is compatible with surrounding land and water-based resources and uses, and it will provide water access to support the fishing and tourism industries.”

San Carlos Island residents review the proposed Waterfront Overlay map with Lee County Planning Department staff.

While protecting the working waterfront component is important, Rozdolski said, “the residents told us as well that they want ‘essential use’ redevelopment for their community, so that hopefully businesses such as a barbershop or grocery store might relocate to San Carlos Island, and the Community Plan needs to provide the incentives to do that. Even these, however, must support the commercial fishing and tourism industries.” Essential Uses include food and convenience stores, boat parts shops, pharmacies, healthcare, and personal and pet services to reduce off-island traffic trips.

Another aspect of the SCI Commercial Plan draft is that it will continue to monitor traffic levels on the island to identify future projects, aid in transportation enhancements and infrastructure planning strategies, and support the integration of pedestrian and bicycle facilities into the transportation network to coordinate better vehicular movement for residents, visitors and businesses.

Marina Village Future Land Use

A suggested simplification to the SCI Community Plan is to replace the zoning designation, “Destination Resort Mixed Use Water Dependent Future Land Use (DRMUWD FLU)” as requested by the controversial Bay Harbour Marina Village proposed residential and commercial development, with the phrase, “Marina Village.” “We recommend this because the current ‘DRMUWD FLU’ is a mouthful and paragraph onto itself,” smiled Rozdolski! “It is not a term for one specific proposal, like Bay Harbour, but any other similar locations in the future that might meet the same criteria.”

The “Marina Village” future land use category is a mix of uses, proximity to navigable water and availability of public services. Future development must be approved through the Planned Development Zoning process to encourage the incorporation of a mixture of uses. For projects to qualify for “Marina Village,” they must have a minimum of 5 acres of contiguous land under unified control; existing access to a navigable body of water; and access to existing roadways and within a half-mile of an existing transit route. It would allow a maximum total density of 15 dwelling units per acre for very low, low or moderate-income level households, and have a maximum permitted building height of 180 feet, with that increasing to 230 feet for structures that utilize multiple stories of enclosed parking under a residential or hotel designation.

The Bay Harbour Marina Village proposed development would have 113 residential units, including 15 canal-edge townhouses and 38 for “workforce” or “moderate income” households; 30,000-square-feet of commercial office, retail and mini-storage space; a marina with 29 wet and 286 dry slips; 4,000-square-feet of civic space open to the public; and a parking garage with 200 additional public spaces; at an overall maximum height of 145 feet.

Lee County Hearing Examiner Donna Marie Collins in August and September 2018 heard the Bay Harbour Marina Village request to rezone their 7.47-acre site at Oak and Main Street that was the former Compass Rose Marina from Industrial Development to DRMUWD FLU, with Collins yet to issue her final determination. Hearing Examiners are local administrative agency employees who serve as judges to resolve conflicts in their jurisdiction. Their ruling is not final, but it is a neutral place for development plans before reaching the Lee County Commissioners for a vote and final answer. “Since Bay Harbour is already before the Hearing Examiner and in process,” added Rozdolski, “any potential changes to the San Carlos Island Community Plan will play no part in its case.”

Where To From Here

With regard to the concern of the Beach Area Civic Association (BACA) that Lee County wrote the SCI Community Plan draft with large-scale developments in mind, Rozdolski strongly disagreed with that assessment. “I don’t feel that is true at all! We incorporated as best we could the comments of all residents who participated in the ‘San Carlos Island Visioning Workshop’ from last year into this document, to produce a well-rounded community for San Carlos Island that protects its working waterfront while encouraging reasonable development that will enhance the lives of its local citizens. The draft Community Plan has most of the redevelopment areas along the San Carlos Boulevard corridor, because without changes to the SCI Community Plan, anyone who wants to conduct redevelopment here is stuck with older non-conforming lots under new regulations and that is a detriment. For the Working Waterfront, conversely, the Water Dependent Overlay process will be in place to not only maintain but strengthen its historic character.”

As for next steps, “We will take back the comments we hear today and incorporate the ideas we may have not addressed,” said Rozdolski. “After we make those changes, it goes to the Lee County Local Planning Agency, hopefully by Summer. Any potential alterations to the Land Development Code requires two additional steps, then the Lee County Commissioners will hold two hearings before making their final decision. We took the email addresses of everyone who attended today and will send them notices to alert them of the meetings, so everyone can stay active in the process.”

As for the reaction she is receiving from the public about the proposed San Carlos Island Commercial Plan, Rozdolski said, “there is a lot! Some of it is positive and some not, but this was a good educational forum, both for the public to hear a greater in-depth explanation of the concept and to answer their questions with accurate information, and for the Lee County staff to hear their concerns. That give-&-take always results in a better final product!” To review the proposed SCI Community Plan, see www.leegov.com/layouts; for questions and or to comment, email PODPlanning@leegov.com.

 

By Gary Mooney
gary@fortmyersbeach.news