CAPTIVA COMMUNITY PANEL
November 13, 2007
Panel Members in Attendance: Ron Gibson, Gordon Hullar, Dave Jensen, Mike Kelly, Rene Miville, Mike Mullins, Nathalie Pyle
1. The meeting convened at 9 a.m. Gibson made a motion to approve the Oct. 9 minutes as submitted (Kelly second), approval was unanimous.
2. Fertilizer resolution:
Jensen made a brief introduction of the issue and the genesis of the resolution before the panel. Gibson made a motion to accept the resolution as written (Mullins second). Kelly asked whether the text had been published publicly. Gooderham explained that it had been sent to the e-mail list but that there was no sufficient time to otherwise distribute it, and that copies were available for public review at this meeting. Jensen offered the audience a moment to review the text and asked for comments. Gibson asked for clarification as to the current status of regulation and scope, Gooderham explained that there was no regulation by the county at this time and this would apply only to professional applications, not homeowners. He said some professionals had noted that they did not need regulation as they knew how to apply fertilizer to avoid problems, but that the county needed to start somewhere. On calling the issue, approval was unanimous.
3. Water quality resolution:
Mullins offered background on the resolution, which was sparked by the recent beach closings caused by pollution sources that have yet to be determined. The state Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies have looked into Captiva and Sanibel sources, DEP has investigated. It's clear we need to look at the current septic systems and other sewage treatment plants as a potential source, recognizing that newer systems function better.
But we face the question of what to do. Expand the Aquasource plant at South Seas? That entails mangrove destruction. Try outreach to Sanibel to hook on to their system? That failed at the time it was first tried, but circumstances may have changed enough to reconsider. The panel submitted a request for feasibility study funding from the Legislature, which was approved by both houses and vetoed by governor. We've had no formal negotiations with Sanibel, but they appear more receptive. The purpose of this resolution is to declare that we want to pursue this matter aggressively and look into all available options--sewers, improved septic, etc. It's a way to communicate to the county that we want their help to move aggressively against this problem. Mullins made a motion to approve the resolution as submitted (Kelly second).
Gibson noted that Sanibel has been insistent that governments have to talk to governments, and we've seen that repeatedly in our dealings with them. That's why we need to get the county to act on our behalf. Pyle asked for a couple of clarifications, first concerning any monitoring plan. Jensen said he was looking into it, and had contacted the Health Department, the SCCF lab and the people doing the Bayous Preservation Association testing. He even went with them on one of their collection effort to see what it entailed. He felt this was way beyond anything we can do, we need help. Gibson noted that there are several groups doing monitoring off the island. In fact, thanks to this issue being raised there was a meeting called for Nov. 15 to get all the monitoring groups together and map out the area as to testing, who will be doing it. A lot of monitoring will be done by these groups; we will need to support them financially. This is the first time we've gotten them all in the same room. Miville noted that at a recent Lee Parks & Rec Dept. meeting he attended they pledged to use Tourist Development Council money for expanded testing if there is a pollution problem on the islands.
Pyle asked about the clause that the panel would "commit its resources to investigate." What did that mean specifically? Raise money to participate? General commitment? Jensen said he imagined the panel would raise money to support the efforts of other groups. Pyle asked about outreach to the city of Sanibel, what form will that take? Mullins noted that when he contacted Lee County Commissioner Bob Janes for support, Janes had asked for a resolution from the panel to trigger help. Janes said the county could help in a number of these areas, including facilitating a discussion with Sanibel if necessary by acting as our government. Pyle thanked those who developed this, and said she would be happy to serve on this committee. Hullar noted that Captivans had been wringing our hands about water quality for some time. This resolution was a way to officially make the commitment to find out what is really happening and take appropriate action to stop pollution coming from this island.
Dave Doherty noted that in the face of difficulties bringing sewers to the island, the prospects are slim. Remember there are three plants out here, and we should be careful what we ask for in regulation and remedies. If we come up short in treatment and can't bring sewers out here, that could leave us in a tough spot. Mullins said he did not agree, and that the solution is not clear to all. He felt the stars were in alignment now more than before. (Miville left the meeting at 9:25 a.m.) Mullins said the impact of pollution is becoming more clear and compelling. A solution with Sanibel may be workable, in conjunction with the Aquasource plant. We need to look at all options. DAVE: Just be careful what we ask for from government. Kelly said that collecting data is essential; we need to figure out what the real problem is. Any effort to get data that makes sense, and he felt this was a terrific step forward. On calling the issue, approval was unanimous.
4. Captiva Drive:
Randy Cerchie with Lee County DOT was introduced, and he then introduced Rodney Jacobs who will be overseeing the shoulder project. Cerchie noted that the department had contacted Embarq and Comcast to move their existing green cans back from the roadway in places where they could conflict with the shoulder. He will look at the trees that might need to be moved after the first of the year, only a couple that may need to be moved. Cerchie noted that any sewer discussion is concerning, as was underground utilities. Usually, gravity sewers are installed in the roadway, so the project might also entail a whole new roadway. If we know what's coming, DOT might make different plans on installing the shoulders. Right now, they were committed to starting the shoulders after Easter. Island Water Association will do some milling to make the asphalt flush to make it more comfortable until Easter. If you have areas in need of repair, speak up. In late January, DOT will mark the areas where shoulder pavement will go so you can move your signs and driveways back. Gibson asked if they could put the visual markers indicating the shoulder configuration down again. Now that it's been sold, let them see what they bought. Cerchie said DOT was planning to pave Murmond and Gore once the Sanibel Causeway was fixed, still planning to do that using pervious asphalt. Might do that at the same time, in the spring.
As to the county golf cart resolution, Cerchie said the ordinance is done and will encompass the whole county. The County Attorney's Office is looking at its impact, and the county will have one more big discussion once the ordinance goes into draft form. Pyle asked if that meant groups such as the Panel will be notified when there's an opportunity to discuss it, and Cerchie agreed.
Cerchie noted that LCEC was seeking an exclusive easement in the Captiva Drive right of way, which would mean if they need to come out and do repairs that block the road they're on their property and DOT can't dispute that. When asked about the agreement, Cerchie and Gooderham both noted that LCEC was seeking such an agreement to protect its interests prior to initiating any project, and that the issue was discussed at a recent staff meeting where the County Attorney's Office was asked to pursue the matter with LCEC attorneys. Gooderham said no progress had been reported to him, and he would plan to discuss the issue with Commissioner Janes to see what he could ascertain about their efforts.
Doherty asked if DOT was moving forward with a shoulder without knowledge of what will happen with the utilities. Cerchie said his agency went forward on the shoulder as if undergrounding utilities was not happening soon, and without considering the potential for a sewer project. Gooderham noted that this discussion was held at a county staff meeting on utilities two weeks ago, and that there was understanding now that these projects were being discussed and clearly would have to be considered as inter-related at some point. However, they were each moving on their own track until it became clear what timetable they would operate under.
Kelly asked if the county was considering doing nothing until the utilities issue was settled. Cerchie said any necessary road repairs would be part of the MSBU for undergrounding utilities, and that the shoulder can more forward as is. Paul Garvey asked what happened to plans to pave in the Village area. Cerchie said DOT had planned to do it prior to season, but the delay in starting due to completion of the IWA project forestalled that. Jensen asked since Easter is early, when will DOT actually be hereto pave? Cerchie responded that the island could pick a time; we'll mobilize at that time. Garvey asked what was the actual time to pave Village. Cerchie said 2-3 days. Doherty urged DOT to wait until at least April 15 to start paving to help island businesses.
Pyle said all three projects were tied together, but trying to discuss them all at once meant we were spinning our wheels. Let's move on the shoulder if the community is in favor. We risk getting our wheels caught again in the inertia of all three projects. If utilities and sewers move forward, those road repair costs will have to be taken into account. The community supports the shoulder, so let's move forward with that. Mullins noted there was a time period until paving would start when we'll have a better sense about prospects of sewers. It's premature to make any decision today on moving forward with the shoulder. We need to have the facts about the cost, but don't be premature about making this decision. Cerchie noted that he could lose funding for the shoulder if you wait too long, it has been in the budget for a number of years now and could be diverted if funds for other projects get tight. Pyle said we won't have to decide now, but let's move forward. Cerchie said that April 15 will be the start date, so you have until April 14 to decide. He estimated the whole project is about $1 million. Mullins said that means doing sewers will be $1 million harder once the road is done.
Shelly Storves with IWA said they hope to have everyone hooked up by the end of the year, testing and flushing now. The big pipes on land they own along Captiva drive will be gone once the system flushing is done.
Mullins asked that the Nominating Committee report be addressed next. He noted that there had been an open seat for a while, which had been Hal Miller's seat. Since the seat belongs to CPOA, he met with that board and asked them for suggestions or to nominate someone through the committee. After discussions. It was clear that Craig Schwann was at the top of everyone's nominee list. The CPOA agreed to allow the committee to make the recommendation and it brings him forward for approval. Kelly said he thought we were going to have a transparent situation and go out to the community for prospects. Mullins said the committee did that, ran an ad in the paper with no responses. The committee asked for people interested in serving, only one definite yes was from Schwann. Mullins made a motion to approve the Nominating Committee's recommendation and approve Craig Schwann to fill the open panel seat (Hullar second). Approval was unanimous approval. At that point, Schwann joined the panel members at the table.
In the absence of Treasurer Sandy Stilwell, Gooderham led a brief review of the draft budget provided to the panel members, going through the line items and discussing areas were further input was needed to create a final and notated document the panel could review and approve in December. Mullins noted the Hurricane Committee had requested $3,000 in funds, even though it did not need to access the full budget request last year. Gooderham noted that funds for water quality had been included based on semi-monthly monitoring, and that funds were included for a utilities survey if the panel deemed that necessary. A discussion of funding followed, with Gooderham noting that a reimbursement request was going to the county subsequent to this meeting and that the mid-October mailing had generated some $11,000. It was noted by numerous panel members that some of them did not get mailing, and to check on status. Gooderham said that fund-raising specifics could accompany the budget discussion in December. Jensen said the panel needed to do a budget first and make a funding request to the community after that base don what was being planned to be done. Kelly said the Web site needed to note we're a 501c3 nonprofit, which is very important to many donors. Pyle asked for a clarification on the line items for administration and the Web site. Mullins said the panel needed to make the Webmaster accountable. Schwann agreed to monitor the Web site and make recommendations.
In the absence of committee chair Miville, Gooderham provided a brief update on status. He said a county staff meeting with LCEC and Comcast had been held on Oct. 31 to review the report completed by county consultant PowerServices and discuss the next step. That was where the previously mentioned issues of an LCEC agreement with the county and the possible addition of a sewer project had been raised. Gooderham mentioned that the PowerServices report was online at the county Web site, had been provided to the panel Web site and was in the library. He had been working with Elizabeth Walker with the county's Municipal Services Taxing/Benefit Unit office on apportionment options, and that Walker had scheduled a meeting with Mullins and Gooderham on Nov. 19 to preview her findings to date. He said she might have information to present to the panel at the December meeting, but that they would know more after the Nov. 19 session.
Doris Holzheimer asked if a spreadsheet or some other representation of status and cost of the various projects being discussed could be prepared for the next meeting. Gooderham said that could be attempted, but might be incomplete if the necessary information had not been finalized and vetted by then Holzheimer asked what the status of an agreement to use the right of way by LCEC was. Gooderham said it had been discussed at the Oct. 31 meeting, and that both LCEC and the county were to go back and look at possible models to initiate more detailed talks. He had been following up with county attorney Scott Coovert but had not gotten any sense of progress, and might bring the issue up with Commissioner Janes to see if they could be more successful. Gooderham said the county really needed to start the process, as LCEC had no reason to put anything on the table first and had repeatedly noted that any agreement had to conform to the company's legal, financial and operational imperatives. The county had reason to protect the interests of the public in any discussion of public lands such as the right-of-way, and needed to frame that discussion.
Mullins noted that there was still old IWA pipe under the roadway that might be used as a sewer conduit if action were started now to consider that, but that we need to get this moving while the stars were in alignment to get something done. Gooderham said he would follow up with Janes' office on a possible schedule for any utilities discussion, and that he expected what would happen first would be a meeting where all parties---Sanibel, Captiva and the various county departments--could sit down to discuss options and obstacles as part of setting a schedule and critical path. Mullins said the panel should ask for funds and get this issue under the control of the panel to ensure it keeps moving forward. He also hoped to ask the Captiva Civic Association to support the resolution just approved by the panel to eliminate potential on-island divisions. Holzheimer asked whether it was possible to publicly notice such a meeting and have it on Captiva. Gooderham said, given the number of players involved, that seemed virtually impossible to do in a timely fashion. Holzheimer asked for a visual representation of the issues in the underground initiatives, to help everyone see the projects in totality.
7. Land Development Code:
Gooderham noted that the first draft with notation had been distributed at the October meeting for comment. And nothing had been sent back to him. Kelly noted there was still research to be done to finalize the language. He planned to schedule a public meeting in January for community discussion.
Sharon Michie, who had been asked to investigate the issue of fractional ownership based in previous discussion, said her findings were that the panel could regulate a property's use but not its ownership type. You have to control it through the Land Development Code as how properties can be occupied. A discussion of zoning ensured, with Michie noting that anything longer than 7-day rentals were allowed, and that owners can chop up their time beyond that as they see fit. Mullins asked if we needed to change the code at this time. Kelly said he felt the panel needed to acknowledge that this issue was coming. Mullins suggested they contact the Sanibel group that is fighting the Chamber on home rentals, and discussion of that issue followed. Pyle said the panel should put this issue on the agenda or leave it alone. Kelly felt it needed to be part of the LDC discussion. Schwann asked whether they should look at existing interval setups on the island, working through someone such as Hilton Grand Vacations.
In noting issues that needed to be address at the next meeting, Mullins noted that the Nominating Committee was not responsible for nominating a slate of officers, and that the panel should develop officers list. He said they needed to change the bylaws to reflect that plan.
Mullins noted that the recent North Captiva home invasion is a reminder that we're in the real world, need to keep things locked up and be aware of our properties.
8. Hurricane Committee:
Holzheimer said that Gibson, Pyle and Sherrill Sims recently went to the National Weather Service station in Ruskin. Gibson said it was amazing to see what they all have to do, particularly the long-range forecasting. He discussed their analysis of the impact of Hurricane Noel on Cape Cod almost a week in advance of the actual event. He said it looks like Captiva will be designated a Storm Ready Community, all done except for the vote.
Beth Oden explained role and actions of the mycaptiva.info Web site. She would like to grow the e-mail list, only about 250 names right now. It's a resource that people are using, and she'd like to grow that among the community. There's a sign-up form for the e-mail list on the Web site, set up in multiple places. Mailings are done through Constant Connect, so it's very private. Schwann said they could do something in the South Seas newsletter. Pyle asked if something could be put in the paper.
Oden reminded everyone that it had not been a quiet hurricane year by any stretch of the imagination. We got lucky, the weather patterns kept the storms away but they still formed.
The meeting was adjourned by unanimous assent at 11:05 a.m.