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Cape Council rehashes ordinance sponsorship

Board also leaves sign regulation implementation date of April 1 in place

March 25, 2014
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

City Council revisited a resolution aimed at removing council member names as sponsoring ordinances and resolutions at Monday's meeting in City Hall.

The measure has been before council before and was amended the last time.

After much discussion, the revised resolution was amended again as members waffled on the number of members required to bring a measure before the entire council.

The revised resolution was amended to read that at least three council members must concur with the initiating member to advance the ordinance or resolution to staff and ultimately to council.

Consultant and former mayor Joe Mazurkiewicz, as he did before, addressed the council during public input saying, "This version is better than the previous version, but by just one number. My main concern is the same as before. You give the City Manager and City Attorney more power that you give yourself allowing them to bring ordinances to council individually. I don't understand why you want to limit your legislative authority. It does not make sense."

Council members have objected to their names being attached to bills currently whether they agree with the premise or not, just because it affects or originates in their district or by random selection. Mazurkiewicz understands the philosophy behind members' concern, but indicated the resolution does not lend itself to efficiency.

"I think you are overreacting," he said. "It is the right of a councilmember to present a bill without stepping all over the rights of the people even if they are of the minority opinion."

When asked for a motion to approve the resolution, there was a pregnant pause before a member reluctantly so moved, and another before a "for discussion" second.

"When I offered three members last time I didn't mean three plus one," said Councilmember Jim Burch. "I meant one of those being the initiating member and would like to reiterate that here to go forward."

Councilmember Rick Williams took Mazurkiewicz's remarks to heart and said, "I have the same concerns about limiting ourselves. I do not agree with three to bring things forward, but I do think we need to have a point person for the public to communicate with. I don't like the restriction."

Burch countered, "I'm not concerned with a point person, with all due respect, because anyone can call any one of us and ask a question. I prepare for all the agenda items, not just pick the ones I happen to agree with. We are all elected at-large and represent everyone."

Councilmember Lenny Nesta pointed out that while he thinks the current council is a good one, "That might not be so in the future. One member would not be able to do much if there is a voting block. Like Joe, I favor changing the T-1 paragraph, pull it or tweak it."

A couple of other members, including Richard Leon, said they could not support the T-1 paragraph as written and would like to see the number back to zero. Rana Erbrick, however, said she supported the it as written.

"If you can't get four of us to agree on something ahead of time, where do you think it will go when we vote?" she said.

It was Nesta who made a motion to amend the motion to lower the number of members required to bring a bill forward to two. That motion passed 6-2, so the resolution will go back for another rewrite.

Council also:

n Unanimously voted to update the schedule of five-year Capital Improvements ordinance as required by state law annually, a component of the city's Comprehensive Plan, through the Fiscal Year 2018-19.

n Unanimously approved an administrative resolution authorizing reimbursement of $106,737.57 to the Casa Di Fiori development for private construction of a portion of a potable water main needed for fire protection. The development, formerly known as Island Pines and originally constructed on the city's irrigation system for fire protection, sat dormant until 2012 when new ownership resurrected the development.

City regulations regarding fire protection connections to the irrigation system were changed to the potable water source in 2005. Allowing the development to upgrade the water main system in public right-of-way was deemed a benefit to the city and completed at a much sooner date than the city could have achieved itself. Therefore, the city agreed to reimburse the developer for the construction cost servicing Casa Di Fiori.

n Approved the appointment of Matthew Sinclair to one of the three vacant seats on the Contractors Regulatory Board while also calling for others in the construction industry to step forward and serve on the board.

n Heard a stakeholders' meeting presentation regarding the city sign ordinance that goes into effect on April 1. The "stakeholders," made up of Chamber of Commerce, business owners, Realtors and the public, had three meetings with city staff on the ordinance and offered options in the areas of feather banners, A-frame signs and window advertising coverage.

One option allows either one A-Frame sign or one feather banner with restrictions. Another option allowed an A-frame sign with restrictions and banned feather banners citing them as a nuisance, storm hazard, being unsightly and safety issues. The third recommendation dealt with window coverage that the new ordinance set at no more than 30 percent, raising it to no more than 50 percent.

The presentation did not require a vote, but asked for direction for staff to take.

Six council members were comfortable with Option 2, banning feather banners and allowing one A-frame sign at businesses with restrictions.

Most members preferred 30 percent window coverage, but would not fight the stakeholders' recommendation for 50 percent.

Staff would take a "soft opening" approach toward sign violations for the first 90 days while it amends the ordinance to the wishes of the council and another vote at a future council meeting.



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