Before forwarding a new ordinance on connectivity to city council, the Sanibel Planning Commission voted to exclude a requirement for adjacent property owners to enter into a cross access agreement.
The purpose of the ordinance is to promote the development of new intra-and-inter-connections between properties on the island. These would include pedestrian and bicycle networks between the shared use path system and island properties.
Sanibel Planning Director Jim Jordan asked the commission to debate whether or not property owners should have to enter into a cross access agreement -- essentially an easement -- that would include provisions for both parties and be filed with the Lee County Clerk of Courts.
Bicyclists and pedestrians enjoy the island's shared use path system. MCKENZIE CASSIDY.
"After some discussion by staff we were wondering if we really wanted to enforce or require the cross access agreement. It may actually impede or prevent or give folks a second thought about even doing it," said Sanibel Planning Director Jim Jordan. "I wanted to at least have that discussion with the planning commission before we moved this on to city council."
The commission questioned what would happen if a property switched hands and the new owner no longer wanted to continue with an agreement. Sanibel City Attorney Ken Cuyler said it depended on whether the agreement was voluntary or imposed by the city.
"If it's a voluntary action on the part of the property owners and we aren't imposing a regulation on them, then it's always going to be at their discretion. If they want to back out of it they will be able to back out of it," said Cuyler.
On the other hand, he explained, if property owners entered into the cross access agreement they would need to deal with issues of title, attorney fees, and an indemnity. He said it's a good idea, but may detract property owners from entering into the kind of the agreements the city is looking for.
"It's a good idea but if the objective is to promote people volunteering for this, that may not work out," said Cuyler.
Commission Member Chris Heidrick supported the removal of the cross access agreement from the ordinance. He said any business or property owner would have their own attorney review and edit this type of agreement anyway, leading to multiple versions of the same document.
"The bottom line is that if it doesn't serve a purpose or accomplish an objective, we shouldn't have it there," said Heidrick.
Commission Member Chuck Ketteman said it doesn't make any sense to include the agreement in the draft ordinance and also supported its removal.
"The logic of a voluntary, best practices set of ideas together with what looks like an imposed agreement doesn't make any sense," said Ketteman. "To the extent that land owners want to have an agreement, they will do it, but I don't think we should put something in there that implies they should have it."
Jordan said that changes would be made to the draft ordinance, but the copy sent to council would resemble the one presented on March 11.
For more information about the Sanibel Planning Commission, visit mysanibel.com.