Home' Island Sun : ISN 081415 Contents ISLAND SUN - AUGUST 14, 2015
Variance Granted For
Minor Infraction At Residence
by Jeff Lysiak
During Tuesday’s planning commission meeting, a variance request to allow a
minor encroachment into the front yard setback at a new residence on San
Carlos Bay Drive was granted, with members of the commission calling their
decision a “reasonable” resolution.
Homeowner Guy Arvia notified the city’s planning department after inspecting his
property and discovering that the front staircase of his new residence extended 22
inches into the minimum front yard setback, inquiring whether there could be any
administrative relief granted to this self-imposed setback encroachment.
“Planning department staff has reviewed the circumstances, including the site condi-
tions, permit review history, and the existing construction and determined there are
no provisions in the Land Development Code allowing staff to authorize or grant any
administrative relief from the minimum required front yard setback requirements,” the
staff report reads in part, presented by city planner Benjamin Pople.
Since, according to the city’s standards for granting a variance were not met, Pople
had proposed four recommended conditions if the commission approved the variance:
• Setback relief is granted for the front stairway appurtenant to the single-family
residence approved under development permit No. 13-7601.
• The stairway shall be set back a minimum of 23 feet from the edge of the platted
cul-de-sac for the San Carlos Bay Drive right-of-way.
• Handrails shall be located to create the minimum encroachment necessary while
also meeting Florida Building Code requirements.
• The variance approval and location of the stairway shall not be used as the basis
for any future nonconformity or code violation on the subject property.
Additionally, Pople offered two recommended conditions if the commission denied
• The applicant shall provide a plan revision to modify or reconstruct the front stair-
way in compliance with the 25-foot setback, as measured from the edge of the platted
cul-de-sac for the road right-of-way of San Carlos Bay Drive.
• The encroachment into the required minimum front yard setback shall be
removed prior to planning department approval for the issuance of a final certificate of
completion or occupancy.
Commissioner Tom Krekel suggested that it would be an “unreasonable condition”
to require the applicant to reconfigure his front entryway steps in order to meet the
front yard setback standards, considering that the encroachment had been done acci-
“We’re talking about two steps,” said Jim Jordan, planning department director,
who suggested that the violation likely occurred due to a calculation error during the
early stages of pre-construction of the residence. “If you were to drive by and looked at
the property, would you say, ‘What happened here?’ I don’t believe so.”
Other members of the commission agreed that the encroachment would have
no impact upon the surrounding neighbors and island community, and that the only
people affected would be the property owners themselves, who will have a smaller
driveway area than planned for.
“Due to the diminimous nature of this problem, I would hope the commission
would interpret that reasonably,” said Arvia.
Commissioner Chuck Ketteman offered that, in his opinion, all seven standards to
grant a variance had been met. “I have no problem approving this request for a vari-
ance,” he added.
“This is a very minimal issue that needs to be considered reasonably, and I think
that’s what we’re doing today,” said Tom Krekel, who seconded Ketteman’s motion
to approve the variance. The commission voted 6 to 0 favorably, with commissioner
Chris Heidrick recusing himself from voting.
In other business, commissioners voted unanimously to approve a development per-
mit application to build – in conjunction with the development of a new single-family
dwelling – an elevated accessory swimming pool and deck that will be higher than
seven feet above predevelopment grade.
The two-story Mediterranean style residence, to be constructed on the gulf-side
street intersection of Waters Edge Lane and Blue Heron Drive, will encompass
“The proposed residence and elevated swimming pool are compatible to other
gulf-facing residences within the Gulf Shores neighborhood,” the planning department
staff report reads in part. “The setbacks, orientation, fenestrations, roof characteristics,
height and landscaping proposed for the residence and elevated swimming pool are in
keeping with the general character and atmosphere of the defined neighborhood for
Gulf Shores subdivision.”
After a brief discussion, commissioners approved the permit subject to 20 recom-
mended conditions, which includes final approval of the vegetation/landscape plan by
the city’s department of natural resources.
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by Jeff Lysiak
Atthe suggestion of one of the
Sanibel City Council members,
the planning commission agreed
to investigate meeting on a monthly
basis – rather than its current schedule
of two sessions every month – in order
to cut down on the planning depart-
ment’s workload and improve the over-
all efficiency of both the city staff and
During his council liaison report
before the seven-member commission,
Chauncey Goss suggested that adjusting
the commission’s meeting schedule to
once per month might be beneficial, both
economically and functionally. He asked
both the commission and the planning
department if they thought they could
effectively conduct city business on a
“I think this is somewhat appealing to
staff... it gives staff time to get ready,”
said Jim Jordan, the city’s planning
department director. “With two meetings
a month, we are always getting ready for
the next meeting. As long as applicants
and staff know the schedule, they all can
plan accordingly and it shouldn’t be an
City attorney Ken Cuyler confirmed
that making such an adjustment to the
commission’s meeting schedule would not
require an ordinance or charter require-
“If it doesn’t work out, we can always
go back to twice per month,” said com-
missioner Chris Heidrick.
Commission chair Dr. Phillip Marks,
who noted that the recreation center
budget reduction demonstrated that their
facility could reduce their budget and
operate more efficiently simultaneously,
offered that a monthly meeting schedule
could do the same for the commission.
“There will be times for special meet-
ings. I don’t think anyone here would
object if once or twice a year we have to
call a special meeting if we have to have
one of those,” said Marks, who suggested
that the commission establish a regular
schedule (i.e. the second Tuesday of each
“Having one meeting every month will
implicitly ensure that all of us will try and
be present for those meetings,” added
commissioner Chuck Ketteman. “I’m cer-
tainly in favor of trying it out.”
“If we have a lot coming, we can
stay longer,” added commissioner Tom
Ketteman made a motion to propose
a monthly schedule for the commission,
which was seconded by Holly Smith. The
motion was unanimously approved and
will now go before the city council for
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