Historic Preservation Board debates 3rd Street property access

December 16, 2016
By Marcy Shortuse

The Boca Grande Historical Preservation Board met Wednesday, Nov. 9 to discuss four agenda items.     
The first request was to rehabilitate 271 Gilchrist Avenue. The applicant proposes to improve the eastern porch of the existing single-family residence by replacing the shed roof with a gable roof and the existing single, side-facing stairway with separate double side-facing stairways.
Lee County Planner Peter Blackwell said DOT prefers that access to the property should remain via Whiskey Row. The applicant isn’t proposing any changes to that effect, so the staff recommends board approval.
Resident Peter Soderberg was opposed to the proposal and said his main concern is that the access road would turn into a congested parking area, and that doesn’t seem in keeping with the historical guidelines of Boca Grande. Board member Guerrino Savio said he has a property with a similar situation and feels it’s a common issue on the island. He voted to approve the project as proposed. The motion passed unanimously.
The second item was a request to construct a two-story, contemporary style single-family residence on an undeveloped lot at 291 Gilchrist Avenue. At last month’s meeting, there was an issue about access to the property via Third Street.
Lee County planner Sharon Jenkins-Owen said the staff agrees that the request is consistent with Boca Grande design standards and recommends approval of the proposal. A motion was made to approve the request, and it passed.
The third item on the agenda was a request to build a permanent roof on the existing slip and replace the stairs and landing at the Busch Boat House, located at 1361 13th Street East. Jenkins-Owen said the request matches architecturally with the rest of the existing roof and recommended that the board approve this request. The motion passed unanimously.
The fourth item was a request to demolish the guest house located at 300 Third Street West and to construct a garage addition and relocation of the stairs. The architect for the project said the cottage to be removed was originally built in 1925 but has been modified several times over the years, and it’s almost impossible to identify the original structure, adding that the remainder of it is extremely weak.
Board member Rebecca Paterson said she has a fundamental problem with agreeing to demolish the cottage that was built in 1925. “We work so hard to protect what we have – that’s why we’re here,” Patterson said.
Board member Susan Hanafee said if the original structure could no longer be identified, that makes it no longer historically viable. Chair Bill Caldwell said he doesn’t particularly like it when a structure is within one foot of a property-line wall.
Applicant Bruce Kenan said the building is barely habitable now, due to the location of the wall.
Paterson made a motion to approve the construction of a garage but not to destroy the guest house. Four members voted to approve that motion, and two were opposed.
The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at the Boca Grande Community Center.