Sanibel Planning Commission heard and approved a conditional use permit Tuesday to Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) to develop about nine acres of the 23.8-acre Bailey Homestead property on Periwinkle Way.
SCCF director Erick Lindblad presented the commission with an overall review of the development, which includes construction of three structures to service its conservation land management of the property, environmental education and research programs, interpretive history, native plant nursery, demonstration gardens and a nature trail.
The structures include an open pavilion for events, a garage for nursery tools and a mist house for native plant promulgation.
SCCF's plan to develop the Bailey Homstead with a native plant nursery, environmental, historical and educational resource with nature trails won approval from the Planning Commission Tuesday.
"It's essentially a pool cage to provide some shade for the plants," said Lindblad. "We're restoring the windmill to pump water to a tank to use the water for the native plant nursery. It's not a second nursery. We want to relocate the nursery we have from its current site."
The Bailey home has been in the process of restoration for several months. The exterior siding has been replaced, repaired and painted, new windows installed and a previously permitted deck walkway for future visitors to the historic structure.
The nature trail will connect to the Pond Apple Park trail by boardwalk connector, hopefully by June, Lindblad said.
Entrance to the property has been moved to the city's neighboring Roadside Park about 700 feet west. Some 75 parking spaces will be constructed on the Bailey property for visitors to special events. Roadside Park will be connected to the property by a new driveway as well as a connection, by agreement, to the Il Cielo parking lot adjoining the homestead for overflow parking during major events.
"Using the Donax Street intersection was just too complex to serve as an entrance," said Lindblad. "That's why we had to move it to Roadside Park."
A kiosk for retail sales, vegetation buffers, surface water and drainage management, and outdoor lighting conditions are attached to the permit.
"I like the nursery idea," said Vice Chairman Dr. Phillip Marks. "It will be better than the current one. I know people with be able to go and see and enjoy. And there is additional property there for another building if needed in the future."
Commissioners unanimously supported permit approval.
Sundial Resort's development permit application came under scrutiny by the commission. The resort was asking to establish a wedding preparation and spa treatment facility by converting existing office and conference room space.
The modification of the rooms reduces the intensity of use as well as reducing vehicular traffic and parking space. Traffic and parking studies were done and reviewed by the planning department staff.
The commission's chief concern was whether the spa feature of the application would draw patrons from the general public from the island or off island.
"Our number one priority is to serve the guests of the resort," said Jim Banks, an engineer for the property owners. "We are not targeting the general public. We are asking for permission to operate offseason when the hotel is not as populated as well as in season without consideration to any incidental service to outside guests."
Banks told the board 25 parking spaces were required for the original use as office and conference space. Only 13 would be required for a free-standing spa business.
"We are reducing the need for parking to seven spaces," said Banks.
Commissioner Marks suggested the resort put signs on three parking spaces reserving them for spa patrons only.
The permit was approved 5-0 with commissioner Chris Heidrick abstaining.
An after-the-fact variance application to the Land Development Code for an accessory marine structures (boat dock & lift) came before the commission. The property in question on Kinzie Island Court is owned by Kenneth and Pamela Roessler.
Honc Docks & Lifts built the structure extending beyond the 20-percent width of the canal requirement. The boat lift holds a 21-foot boat with a second lift that could accommodate two personal watercraft. Code does not permit use by more than two vessels.
"The mangrove root line on the survey did not match what was present in the field," said city planner Ben Popel. "Construction was based on preserving the mangrove root line. If the request was part of the original permit, you might not have approved the dock as all."
Options include removal of the dock, altering the configuration to come into compliance, or rebuild according to the original setbacks. City staff did not recommend rebuild which would create negative impact on the mangroves.
"Mangroves on both sides of the structure extend out into the canal farther than this dock," said Dan Stovall of Honc Docks & Lifts. "If boats avoid the mangroves they also are avoiding this dock. If we pull it back, are we really changing the effects to the mangrove area more than just leaving it where it is?"
City attorney Ken Cuyler responded to commissioner questions, reminding them, "If this had come before you for the first time is it something that you would grant a variance for?"
Besides it being a request after construction was completed, the second lift accommodating two watercraft was enough to unanimously turn the commission against approval.
"There are two or three things here that I see as a problem," said commission chairman Mike Valiquette before the vote to reject the application.
An application for a variance to Land Development Code in the Gulf Beach Zone by the Loggerhead Cay Condominium Association breezed through the panel process.
Loggerhead Cay was seeking to replace the existing asphalt surface with permeable paver bricks on a mere three parking spaces that extend into the Gulf Beach Zone on the property.
"This is a good thing," said commissioner Marks. "Asphalt is impervious until it starts to break down and get pot holes in it."
The variance was approved unanimously.
The next commission meeting on Dec. 25 was canceled and set it for Jan. 8.