February 10, 2004

Panel Members in Attendance: Hal Miller, Dave Jensen, Rene Miville, Ron Gibson, Harry Silverglide, Peter Koury

Panel Members Absent: Gordon Hullar, Chris van der Baars, John Madden

Audience: 11

The meeting was called to order at 9 a.m. with a roll call of members.

A motion to approve the minutes from the Jan. 13, 2004, Captiva Community Panel (CCP) meeting was made by Gibson, seconded by Jensen. Vote was 6-0.

For an update on the Blind Pass project, Ron Gibson called on Alison Hagerup, administrator of the Captiva Erosion Prevention District. Hagerup announced she had scheduled a pre-application meeting in Tallahassee on Feb. 17 to discuss the project with key permitting and approval entities. She said Lee County was moving forward on its efforts, which included seagrass mapping and taking vibracore samples in the Dinkins Bayou area.

After questioning, Hagerup reiterated that this project has to go through numerous layers of permit approvals on the state and federal levels, but that there was a strong commitment from Mike Barnett, the new head of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, to move this forward and strong support to coordinate the Blind Pass project with the planned renourishment of Captiva's beaches. Discussion closed with the mention of another public forum at the CCA building possible in April.

The next item raised was the status of the Lee Plan text submission. Ken Gooderham said the submission had been revised based on discussions and decisions at the Jan. 13 meeting, and that he was awaiting any decisions made at this meeting before finishing the submittal materials.

Gooderham referred to materials he provided the panelists prior to the meeting concerning potential language to be added to the county's Land Development Code to implement some of the existing Lee Plan policies pertaining to Captiva. He provided this to the panel for their review prior to the next meeting, when public discussion would be appropriate.

Gooderham also referred to a letter he received from Mariner Properties and Plantation Development Ltd. requesting time on the panel's March 9 agenda to make a presentation concerning its property at the northern end of the resort. Discussion among panelists and the audience ensued concerning the potential details of these plans and what additional information or expertise would be useful to the panel to have at the next meeting. Since the scope of the plans was not certain, the consensus was that the panel and audience could listen to the presentation and ask for additional information to be presented at a future panel meeting. By consensus, the panel did ask Gooderham to request that Mariner/PDL make a copy of their plans available to the public in advance of the March 9 meeting, preferably at the Captiva Library a week beforehand. Jensen made a motion to approve the agenda request, seconded by Silverglide. Vote was 6-0.

For the next item, David Felton of Communication Development Services briefly restated his presentation at the Jan. 13 CCP meeting, and mentioned that he had provided materials to be forwarded to the panelists based on questions at that previous meeting. He confirmed the proposed structure would be a 170-foot-tall monopole, to replace the existing guyed tower of between 125 and 150 feet in height. He explained that county officials required the 170-foot height so their equipment could be installed on the top 10 feet for maximum effectiveness.

Under questioning, Felton confirmed that he had discussed the tower with county officials but no commitment to place the equipment on the tower had yet been made. The county anticipated equipping two towers--one on Captiva and one on Sanibel--at a cost of approximately $3 million each. Felton explained the proposed tower in the Sanctuary on Sanibel was being developed privately by Verizon, and would not be suitable for county needs.

Asked whether the panel could make approval conditional on a commitment by the county to place equipment on the tower, Felton stated he did not know if that was possible but he could commit to saving space for the county on the structure. While an agreement with the county had not been finalized, Felton said he intended to make the cost to the county minimal to locate their equipment on the proposed tower.

Discussion turned to potential environmental issues, where two were identified: Birds hitting guy wires and the use of microwave equipment on towers. Felton noted the proposed monopole would eliminate the existing guy wires on the current tower. No microwave facilities were planned on the structure, but he would prefer any such restrictions be made a condition on any approval of a variance or special exception instead of being placed in the comp-plan language.

He also noted the tower would require approval by state and federal environmental regulators, even though no new development was planned and no destruction of adjacent mangroves or wetlands was foreseen. The monopole itself would require a 10-foot by 10-foot base, while the support equipment would be housed in a structure to be built atop an existing maintenance building.

Captiva Fire District Chief John Bates reiterated the communications issues behind the proposed tower and the county cost. The failings of the current communications system were discussed, and the two-tower solution was reconfirmed in discussions.

Koury introduced language for a new Lee Plan amendment that had been drafted and approved by the CCA's Land Use Committee. It read:

Proposed Captiva Community Plan Policy 13.1.14

Re: New Captiva Communication Tower Facility

Notwithstanding anything pertaining to Captiva Community Plan Height Restriction Policy, due to the unique degree of public interest attached to it regarding emergency communications services, the existing telecommunications tower facility located in the maintenance and engineering area of South Seas Resort may be replaced in such area to a height not to exceed 170 feet, provided that said new facility makes space available to the county for adequate emergency communications service coverage for Captiva, as well as co-location capability for all wireless carriers desirous of serving Captiva. In keeping with the proposed Captiva Community Plan Policy 13.1.13, pertaining to mangroves, destruction of mangroves will not be allowed in order to build or operate such a tower or related tower facilities

Discussion ensued on whether this proposal would create a commercial monopoly and thus face county denial. There was also discussion as to the condition of the current tower, its status for reconstruction and how visible it or a replacement would be on the resort or the island.

Silverglide summarized that the issues seemed to be whether cellular service needed to be improved (which he did not feel was crucial), whether public health and safety concerns were at stake due to the failing communications now in place (which he felt was critical and should be ensured if possible) and whether the proposed tower would have any adverse environmental impacts, particularly from use of microwave facilities.

Bob Lloyd asked that a balloon test be done to determine visual impact and that more public input would be wise. He also inquired whether a "stealth" pole (where transmitters are located inside the structure) had been considered. Felton responded that photos had been sent to panelists showing such a pole, but that county equipment would have to be mounted on the outside of the structure for effectiveness.

Felton also noted he had researched the need for microwave equipment on the tower, and had been assured by Sprint that there was sufficient T-1 capacity to eliminate the need for microwave transmissions in the foreseeable future. County planner Jim Mudd noted that any language the panel submitted could be modified as it went through the approval process, and that it probably could be withdrawn from consideration at any point up to final adoption.

Jensen moved to approve the CCA language, seconded by Gibson. Further discussion on how to prohibit use of microwave equipment ensued, along with discussion of the CCA language. Koury proposed a total ban on microwave facilities, while other panelists pondered whether some conditional language--such as making its use a special exception--would be as effective while accommodating future technology and demand.

Gooderham asked for two housekeeping revisions in the language, to correct the citation of the height restriction policy number and to eliminate the reference to a proposed policy in the language. Koury noted that the new policy number was already used and would need to be changed as well. The panel reached consensus that a total ban on microwave equipment would be preferred, with the allowance that county staff and attorneys could send back proposed language that might make such restrictions conditional for consideration during the plan approval process.

The language was restated as follows:

Policy 13.1.15: Notwithstanding anything pertaining to Captiva Community Plan Height Restriction Policy 13.1.2, due to the unique degree of public interest attached to it regarding emergency communications services, the existing telecommunications tower facility located in the maintenance and engineering area of South Seas Resort may be replaced in such area to a height not to exceed 170 feet, provided that said new facility makes space available to the county for adequate emergency communications service coverage for Captiva, as well as co-location capability for all wireless carriers desirous of serving Captiva. Destruction of mangroves will not be allowed in order to build or operate such a tower or related tower facilities. No microwave facilities will be allowed on the structure.

The vote was 6-0 for approval and inclusion in the text amendment.

The next item was called concerning approval of a 2004 CCP budget. This had been included at the request of Hullar, who felt an approved budget would be beneficial when he went before the CCA Board of Governors later in the month to seek the $10,000 in planning funds committed by the CCA at its Jan. 7, 2003, meeting.

Discussion began concerning county funding for panel activites, and Mudd and Gooderham explained that all allocated county funds had been provided to the panel. In order for additional county funding to be achieved, the panel would have to make a request for new funding--something no other panel had done, but which was expected to occur once any Lehigh Acres community planning got under way. Panelists supported the idea of pursuing additional funding, and the discussion turned on how such funding would be structured. Gooderham explained that the funds were allocated in an agreement with the CPOA, because the county needed a legal entity to provide checks for payment. This then sparked discussion of the steps necessary to incorporate the panel, and Gooderham said it was a relatively simply process that should cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $500-$600. However, county funds could not be used for this endeavor. Mudd explained that the community planning panels in Estero and Boca Grande had incorporated, so there was precedent for this action.

Koury questioned whether the submitted budget was sufficient for the tasks ahead, remembering that the 2003 budget had contained a higher amount. Gooderham responded that he had assembled the budget based on what was now being undertaken by the panel, but that there were a number of other tasks facing the group--including development of Land Development Code language and follow-up on other policy initiatives the panel had expressed interest in the past. Gooderham said he had not included the LDC work since the panel had discussed using chiefly volunteer efforts to draft such language, which meant a professional would not need to be hired until the language was in draft form--likely in 2005.

Koury also expressed reservations about accepting the budget as presented without a more complete explanation of the contract between Gooderham & Associates Inc. and the CPOA for staff services to the panel. Gooderham explained that the CPOA had agreed to a retainer with G&A for all services necessary to staff the panel, but that he was not sure whether this agreement spelled out the details to the extent Koury desired as it had been a while since he had reviewed it.

After further discussion, Jensen moved to accept the budget as presented, with a second by Gibson. The vote was 3-3 (Gibson, Silverglide and Koury against) and the motion failed.

Silverglide asked for additional funds to be included to pay for incorporation of the panel as a not-for-profit Florida corporation, and felt that a 10 percent contingency line item was also warranted. Gooderham proposed that the proposed budget include a line item for panel incorporation that would raise the total to $14,000, and that a 10 percent contingency fee be added to make the final budget total $15,400. Koury asked that the CPOA contract with Gooderham & Associates Inc. be attached to the budget. Gibson moved to approve the budget as amended, with a second by Silverglide. Vote was 6-0.

The meeting adjourned at 11:25 a.m.

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