Sidewalk ordinance draft to go before BGHPB

August 6, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

While the Boca Grande Historic Preservation Board hasn’t met since June, they still have only two regular items on the agenda for the Wednesday, Aug. 11 meeting at 10 a.m. at the Boca Grande Community Center. However, one extraneous item has popped up that will pique the interest of many in the business community.

Remember the complaints regarding the plants, benches tables, chairs, newspaper boxes and other items on the sidewalks downtown? Since that happened a few people on the island have been working with Lee County in an attempt to allow Boca Grande to just be “Boca Grande.”

While other issues were discussed, such as granting more leeway regarding parking spaces per business, the primary discussion next week at the meeting will be about sidewalk accoutrement.

Recently a newly-drafted “Boca Grande Historic District Commercial Sidewalk Use Ordinance,” which was created to “provide for commercial sidewalk use within the Boca Grande Historic District.”

The ordinance will apply to properties in the Boca Grande Historic District that have a commercial use permit and right-of-way frontage on Park Avenue between 3rd Street West and 5th Street West, East Railroad Avenue between 3rd Street West and 5th Street West or 4th Street West between Gilchrist Avenue and Palm Avenue.

According to the draft ordinance, tables, chairs, benches, portable outdoor heaters, planters, temporary signage, sales racks, and other objects (“not anticipated in this ordinance, if similar in nature and not contrary to the purpose and intent of this ordinance”) will be allowed if the ordinance is passed, provided that placement of the objects provides a clear path for pedestrian travel with a minimum width 3 ½ feet and a clearance of height of  7 feet is provided. Pedestrian access to public sidewalks, access ramps or doorways must not be obstructed.

Another interesting feature in the draft ordinance is that any business that any seating, tables, umbrellas or outdoor displays must be removed and stored every night when they close, or in the event of a bad storm or hurricane.

It’s also interesting to note that anyone who violates any provisions of this ordinance, will, upon conviction, be subject to: a. A fine not to exceed two $250 per day; b. Imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding 60 days; or c. By both a fine and imprisonment.

There is much more to this bill, but it will be explained at the meeting.

The two other items on the agenda include:

• SCA2021-00015, the Johnson Residence, 341 Lee Ave. The project includes demolition of the existing garage, the addition of new garage with second floor office space and renovation of the rear wing;

• SCA2021-00016, the Wood residence demo, 921 9th St. W. The project includes the demolition and reconstruction of portions of the main residence and revisions to previous approvals on the property.

The meeting will be held in the auditorium at the Community Center. If you have any questions you can see the plans for the proposed Certificates of Appropriateness at the Johann Fust Community Library, 1040 10th St.W, and online at leegov.com/dcd/events.