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CCP goes over second set of Code concerns
January 11, 2019

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The Captiva Community Panel dived into discussing how to address the second of four categories of issues raised by islanders as part of its process for updating the Captiva Code at its recent meeting.

On Jan. 8, the panel tackled the topics under "protection of community resources."

Earlier this year, the panel hosted four public workshops and put out an online survey to gather feedback from property and business owners on a range of potential island-related concerns. The list was later cut down by eliminating topics that involved preemptive legislation, already had laws or regulations in place to address them, ranked lowest on the priority list for the public, and so on.

In November, panel consultant Max Forgey presented his completed research, which entailed examining the 31 pared-down issues and compiling a report on how similar communities dealt with, prohibited or limited them, as well as checking for any Lee County regulations already in place.

In his final report, Forgey divided the 31 topics into four categories: protection of natural resources; protection of community resources; clean air and water protections; and buildings, signs and lights. The panel will focus on one category each month, with the aim of finishing up the discussions in March.

At the recent meeting, the panel covered loud music after 10 p.m., amplified or loud music on the beach and outside speakers/televisions; loud music on rental golf carts; peddlers and buskers on the beach, and unauthorized vendors on the beach; and Blind Pass Bridge issues caused by fishermen.

After the panel's discussion on each, the public had the opportunity to provide input.

For loud or amplified music and noise, President David Mintz explained that there is a Lee County ordinance in place with sound levels measured in decibels from the receiving property. There are levels for residential, commercial and multi-family dwellings from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

He questioned if the island should keep the decibel rule, change it to a 50-foot rule or have both.

Mintz also suggested cementing the "quiet time" after 10 p.m. with written code language.

"I think we all function with a 10 o'clock cutoff," he said.

Many on the panel agreed that most of the island operates as if 10 p.m. is a hard and fast rule. There was discussion about at what point sound becomes a nuisance, with the public offering thoughts.

Lee County Sheriff's Office Lt. Mike Sawicki explained for the panel and audience that using the decibel levels as a measurement to determine a violation is necessary if a case is taken to court.

"That way it's cut and dry," he said. "It's fair."

After being asked, Sawicki reported that the current ordinance has worked for his team.

Mintz noted that a 25-foot rule for the Village was suggested, with 50 feet for the rest of the island.

"I would rather have one standard for the whole island," he said. "Simple is better."

The panel eventually decided to draft language to cement the 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. "quite time" for the whole island, keep Lee County's ordinance and decibel measurements, and add in a 50-foot rule.

As for loud music on rental golf carts, Mintz opened with questioning if it is a problem.

"I don't know if that's an issue," he said of the topic. "I asked Mike (Sawicki) if this was an issue and he said it wasn't."

Currently, Lee County does not regulate audio equipment, speakers and such from golf carts.

Jimi Batchelor, owner of Sunny Island Adventures, explained that none of his company's carts come with a radio or stereo. He added that YOLO Watersports' carts do not either as far as he is aware.

After a brief discussion, the panel determined that it was a non-issue.

On the subject of peddlers and buskers on the beach and unauthorized vendors on the beach, Mintz again questioned the panel and those in attendance on if it is an issue that needs to be discussed.

Sawicki reported that it is not a problem for Captiva, but has come up on Fort Myers Beach.

Once again, the panel determined that it was a non-issue.

For Blind Pass Bridge problems caused by fishermen, Mintz explained that the topic did not rank high on the priority list of islanders' concerns in the survey, but he noted that few people live in the area.

Secretary Mike Mullins, who resides near the bridge, outlined the situation.

He explained that with Lee County and cities like Cape Coral moving toward prohibiting bridge fishing, more people are traveling to Captiva to fish off of the Blind Pass Bridge. They bring onto the bridge chairs, fishing equipment and coolers that block the walkway for pedestrians and cyclists.

"They can't walk on the walking path," Mullins said. "They have to walk out on the road."

He added that some learn about nearby private docks and try to fish off of them.

"We do think it's an issue," Mullins said.

Panel Member Mike Lanigan, who also lives nearby, echoed the concern.

"The amount of cigarette butts and cans and hooks littered on the walkway. There's rotting bait left on the bridge - it's foul," he said. "This would be a five-alarm fire if this was Andy Rosse Lane."

Lanigan agreed that there is some trespassing going on.

"I would like this considered as a serious issue, even though it doesn't affect a lot of people," he said.

Sawicki reported that there is not a whole lot more his team can do in terms of enforcement.

"One of the most annoying things to me is when they catch catfish and just throw it out onto the road," he said, adding that the spikes can pop tires on their ATV and are a safety issue, especially at night.

He explained that the Lee County Department of Transportation oversees the bridge. If the panel wanted to proceed with a fishing ban, the DOT must determine that the activity is hazardous.

"But that's an all or nothing matter," Sawicki said.

Panel Member Dave Jensen noted that banning fishing from the bridge may reduce potential harm to local wildlife, such as the birds, due to less fishing line getting stuck in vegetation and less hooks.

Sandy Stilwell, owner of the Captiva Island Inn, Keylime Bistro and other island businesses, questioned if the county could install a separate, ADA-accessible fishing platform for the public.

Following discussion, the panel decided to look into how to ban fishing from the bridge, while also figuring out how to have an ADA-accessible platform installed so people could continue to fish.

At the February meeting, the panel will cover "clean air and water protections."

IN OTHER NEWS

- The panel elected its new officers for the year, which consists of Mintz as president, Mike Borris as vice president, Mullins as secretary and Tom Rathbone as treasurer.

- Mintz reported that Panel Member Jay Brown, chair of the Wastewater Committee, recently contacted a consultant in regards to gathering supplemental information to go with the TKW study. David Tomasko, of ESA - Environmental Science Associates - in Tampa, can do the work.

A meeting is set for Feb. 1 to discuss the parameters of the project and costs.

In addition, the Florida Government Utility Authority - which owns and operates the treatment facility serving South Seas Island Resort - reported that it expects the plant to last into the future.

- Fire Chief Jeff Pawul reported that the Captiva Island Fire Control District will be conducting its annual fire hydrant maintenance on the island, which includes flushing and painting the devices.

Property owners with hydrants are asked to ensure that at least 3 feet around the devices is clear of landscaping and objects. Also, there should be nothing blocking the hydrant from the roadway.

"So when we drive down the street we don't see it," he said.

- Mintz reported that Johnson Engineering provided a quote of $4,300 to draw up the Captiva Drive improvement plan for the S curve. He is still waiting on a quote from Morris-Depew Associates.

- Lanigan is chairing a new Hurricane Committee, which will focus on gathering and distributing information during storms to citizens and businesses. Those who want to get involved can email him.

- The panel has also created a new Sea Level Rise Committee, which will look into if Captiva needs to develop a plan to fortify the island in the future against rising sea levels, especially along the bayside.

Currently, the panel is considering two possible grants to help fund the committee's work.

- Rathbone and Mullins reported that the Development Committee is looking for a professional fundraiser and someone familiar with grant writing who can volunteer and assist the panel.

"Nearly all of our money comes from donated dollars," Rathbone said.

"We need to get as much help and advice as we can," he added.

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