Community Plan survey closes; residential density a key topic

April 17, 2020
By Marcy Shortuse

STAFF REPORT – The Boca Grande Community Planning Association’s on-line survey of island residents closed on April 16.  Roughly 300 Island residents requested surveys and over 250 were completed. One hundred respondents expressed an interest in being involved in the Association’s work on the Boca Grande Community Plan.
Over the next few weeks the Association will be reporting on the survey findings, along with information about the topics covered and the issues raised. 
One of the issues being addressed by the Association is residential building density.  
Lynne Seibert, an island resident and Treasurer of the Association, was a land use consultant in her professional life.  
“We have wonderful protection for the Island under the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Development Act,” said Seibert, “but changes in Lee County regulations over the past few years have made the rules addressing permissible density confusing and hard to find – for homeowners, real estate agents and builders alike.”  
The current rule is that density on the island, in areas zoned residential, is three dwellings per acre. This density limit, which applies to several islands in Lee County, could once be found in the Lee County Land Development Code in Chapter 34, Article VII.  Article VII was deleted from the Code several years ago when the Code was revised.  Now the only reference to the three dwelling units per acre density on Gasparilla Island is shown in a footnote in the Future Land Use Map in the Lee Plan. The Gasparilla Act itself says that density is limited to five dwellings per acre, but that the stricter of the limitations in the Act and the county regulations applies.
Steve Gardner, an island property owner and lawyer volunteering on the Association’s project, said, “These are pretty dry regulations, with changes over the years, and they’ve become confusing. It’s time to clarify and simplify them.”  
There are issues beyond density, such as what constitutes a “dwelling,” and what is a “residential use.” These topics will be covered in later articles in the Beacon.