June 13, 2006

Panel Members in Attendance: Ron Gibson, Dave Jensen, Rene Miville, Nathalie Pyle, Harry Silverglide, Sandra Stilwell

Absent: Hal Miller

Audience: 10 to 13

1. The meeting was convened at 9 a.m. by vice-chair Jensen. Minutes from the May 9 meeting were approved without change on a motion by Gibson, Stilwell seconded, unanimous approval.

2.Tree subsidy applications Jenny Evans from the SCCF Native Plant Nursery was introduced and a summary of the application received to date was provided to the panel members. The requests were explained, and Evans noted that on approval she would work to find the desired plants and bring them to the nursery. When asked how the rest of the process would work, Evans said deliveries could be made by arrangement or drop-off points could be set up if available. Otherwise, applicants would need to arrange to pick up trees at SCCF.

Stella Farwell asked how many can one owner order. Miville offered the analogy that the program was like an IPO -- if it's oversubscribed, everyone gets cut back; if there's enough supply, all demand can be met. Gibson made a motion to approve applications, Miville seconded. Pyle brought up the issue of reimbursement raised by one of the application, worried that such a move could drain state funds fast. She said she preferred we not reimburse owners for trees already planted prior to this program. Gibson amended his motion not to include reimbursement, Miville concurred. Jensen asked how future requests would be handled, would it be "first come, first served" with no limit on request? Silverglide said the current requests only totaled 20 percent of the available funds, urged the panel to let it go until it's used up. He said the panel should approve what's here now, with no reimbursements, move on and review new requests as they come in. The vote was called and there was unanimous approval of the motion. Evans agreed to contact owners; Ken Gooderham would follow up on the reimbursement application.

3. Safety shoulder Stella Farwell asked to speak before this item was addressed. She said she had a real concern about the process for the committee charged with summarizing the pros and cons, proposing a survey on views and getting information to the community. She asked county DOT to comment on the permit application to the state Department of Environmental Protection for the Tween Waters stretch of the proposed shoulder, and felt that DOT was spending our tax dollars without knowing whether there was community support.

Randy Cerchie replied that DOT submitted a permit to get the ball rolling, and that charges to the taxpayer would be minimal. This was two actions happening concurrently -- consensus and permit. Farwell asked the panel to approve a motion to withdraw all requests for permits on the proposed bike path Cerchie noted that getting a permit does not mean we get the path. Silverglide agreed that the process is broken, and felt the panel needed to establish a process. He said DOT was now asking for dune destruction, and that if we asked for that with mangroves the island would be up in arms.

Gibson noted that the panel was informed by the county that DOT would be going for a permit, and asked what was the charge to the committee on this issue. Jensen said he had asked Susan Stuart to serve with him to lead that committee. They planned to arrange for informational meetings in the fall. Stilwell said she was not sure if she was for or against a path, and that some sections will need to be approached in different ways. She said we nee to try to get consensus by informing the public; they don't even know what's being proposed, what the design is. She said it was not about the individuals, but about what the community wants, and urged the group to work electronically with island groups to get consensus.

Farwell said with what the committee is charged to do, it was inappropriate to go after permits before support is clear. Cerchie said the proposal was not to destroy the dune but to relocate the dune. Miville said there was no design yet; we need to show them plans then ask islanders their opinion. Phyllis Gibson asked whether it was the responsibility of the county to ensure the safety of the public, to give us a safe road. Cerchie replied there have been no fatalities or accidents for many years. It was not DOT's intent to force shoulders on you, but to let the panel to get island consensus by whatever method you choose.

Mullins said he felt we needed to inform island, document the process, elicit comments and make choices. There's a lot of angst about this issue, but no decisions have been made and specifics have not been worked out. He said there had been an e-mail from Sanibel resident Lorraine Cowl that identified problem properties on Captiva Drive pertaining to shoulder obstructions, and that the county was following through on complaints whether legitimate or not. He felt people were reacting emotionally because they don't understand the facts, and said we needed to document the process to make it clear to the community and county. Susan Stuart concurred and said that needed to include a timeline.

Silverglide said we can't put the cart before the horse; there can be no shoulder until the utilities placement is clarified. It's a section by section issue, we have to see the plan. Cerchie explained that a full set of plans was not planned DOT developed plans for the segment under the DEP permit, but that consultants will make things very expensive. Mullins asked for a general sense of where the shoulder was likely to go, and to explain how things will be handled in general.

Pyle noted that Cerchie had promised to stay after today's meeting to discuss this proposal more extensively and offer examples of options i.e., a pat on one side of the road only, vegetation separation options, other design questions. Cerchie said he thought that information would come forward out of the committee. Farwell said the committee needed that information as they were charged with getting information together and disseminating it to the community. She said we needed to survey community and get feedback. Miville said we can't do anything without dealing with the utilities project; it's like arguing over dessert rather than the main course. He said we need to get the county to work with us to get LCEC to put lines in the right-of-way. Mullins said they needed to set out the process first. If there seems to be a conflict on the panel, we need to be clear amongst ourselves. People need time, to see info come out; we should get it clarified in the next meeting or two.

Stilwell said there was a motion two meetings ago to form committee and do a survey to provide information, the pros and cons, survey entire community, and report back to the community the result. Miville said we needed experts to provide design assistance to committee. Jensen said the committee was going to work on that, and to let the committee start first. Farwell said the community can decide whether or not they want the shoulders, regardless of utilities plans. Pyle said this was a process of seeing what's possible. The permit was a way to find out what we can do.

Lorraine Cowl said owners needed to remove stumps and sprinkler heads from the right-of-way, to make a clear 2-3 feet on the side of the road. Cerchie said DOT crews would come out in the next few weeks and grind or remove stumps, remove rocks they deem as a safety hazard, to create an eight-foot clear zone. He reiterated they would look at rocks and stumps; it was not a code enforcement sweep, but an attempt to make it a little safer out there. When asked by Mullins for clarification on the clear zone and plantings. Cerchie said owners cannot plant in the right-of-way without a permit. Crews would remove what they deem as hazardous; they cannot move rocks in the right-of-way even if they were in the clear zone. Mullins said he would rather see the county issue a citation so people understand what you're doing. We'd rather know you're coming to correct issues rather than going in after the fact. One man's rock is another man's boulder.

Farwell reiterated that the cart was way before the horse. If it takes years for the DEP permit after we decide we want it, so be it. Jensen said the committee should proceed to deal with this process. Mullins felt that a process was reasonable by August. Stilwell said we need a timeline, define information and the process, how to proceed. Show people the design, and ask what do you think? Jensen said the committee would come up with a process by Aug. 1 to disseminate information to panel.

Silverglide offered a motion to advise the county to withdraw its DEP permit; it died for lack of a second. Miville said if people decide they want a path, DOT did a good thing; if they don't want it, DOT still did a good thing in applying for the permit. Mullins noted that DOT has been very responsive to island. However, when islanders were asked to clean up their portion of the right-of-way, not much had been done. He asked owners to make some effort to make the side of the road more serviceable as a safety zone. Gibson said he was glad the committee had put someone on who was pro-path, that what some people see as problems others see as a benefit. He felt they really need to poll the community to see what everyone wants, that it was not up to us to decide issues such as this. He urged them to be careful on how you word things.

4. Underground utilities project Gooderham offered an explanation of where the project stood to date, that a construction manager experienced in these kinds of projects was available to meet with the panel and that he had contacted a lawyer very versed in state utilities law who had urged them to work with the county to see how to resolve the right-of-way use dispute. Miville noted that he had done some research, and was surprised LCEC wanted a separate easement as it already works in the right-of-way in other projects. He asked where county attorney David Owen was on this issue, and could we work these things out with the LCEC franchise agreement. He said we need to see the franchise agreement to see what they do with the rest of the county; we need to do our homework. Noting that former utilities committee chair Chris van der Baars was no longer involved, Mullins asked for a volunteer to chair the committee chair. Miville agreed to assume that role, and a motion by Stilwell (Mullins second) formalized it to unanimous approval.

5. Hurricane fund Mullins said he had made proposal to fund storm preparations that could cost money, such as to reserve hotel rooms in advance (the CPOA and CCA agreed to split such an expense if they were not cancelled in time) and to buy a domain name for Web site. He proposed to initiate a fund to pay for those things so people don't have to be on the hook, but decided to make that donation unrestricted so the panel can decide its use. Miville asked why should we work to be near Sanibel for a storm site on the mainland. Sgt. Joe Poppolardo noted the two islands shared a geographic region for storm issues, we do have dialogue with the city and we do work together on storm crisis issues. There was a process in place. He offered kudos to Mullins and Doris Holzheimer who had devoted a lot of time to make process better. Gooderham agreed to check on space arrangements with the Bell Tower Holiday Inn and other nearby hotels.

6. Blind Pass It was noted that the county had submitted the permit for the Blind Pass project in late May, and they were awaiting a DEP response.

7. Lee Plan update Gooderham noted that the county's Local Planning Agency had heard the mixed use amendment at its May 22 hearing and had made some changes in the proposed language. These changes were more to eliminate duplication and did not change the direction or intent of the proposal. He said the LPA had approved the revised language unanimous, and it was now awaiting a hearing before the Board of County Commissioner. No schedule was set on that; since staff preferred to bring a couple of these amendments to the commissioners at the same time, it could be a few months before any further action would be set.

8. Other business Miville introduced two items. First he noted that the house owned by the Dunbars was in bad shape since Hurricane Charley. It was an eyesore from the water, and an accident waiting to happen. Mullins said he had spoken with the Nelsons who know family members, and had called the county. Code enforcers came out, looked at it and notified the owner, who has 60 days in which to have started work to repair problems. If that work is started, they have 60 days to complete, if it's not started, the county can come in and demolish or do as necessary to fix the hazard. He believed the owners had moved expeditiously once the threat of county action loomed.

Miville then discussed a proposal for Turner Beach Park, South Seas Park and the rampway for kayaks next to McCarthy's Marina (part of Blueway trail system). He would like to take these parks up a few notches--enhance them and improve the porta-potties--and will start process for this beautification effort. Silverglide asked about removal of the paper racks at Turner Beach. Cerchie noted that was a First Amendment issue, that DOT has tried to move them elsewhere unsuccessfully. Miville offered to be the contact person for input, and noted he will work on landscaping so we don't have to use our subsidy for that. Farwell urged the use of native vegetation. Stilwell said the kayak ramp area was a hot button issue, that a restroom could encourage liveaboards in the bay. Mullins said he'd be happy to help with bird information and other efforts. He also asked about Captiva Drive signs, using the Gora McGahey sign as an example.

Mullins noted that the structural safety inspectors group (to help with assessments post-storm) planned a June 29th meeting at 10 a.m., possibly at the CCA. Another meeting was planned in July. Poppolardo noted there were June 17 and June 20 hurricane meetings on Sanibel; they had been advertised in paper. Ann Bradley said she could set up a meeting with emergency management through the library if desired.

9. The meeting was adjourned at 10:55 p.m.

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