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Bay Harbour Marina Village submits revised application to Lee County

April 15, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

*This story has been updated since 4.15.17 with additional information*

The developer of Bay Harbour Marina Village has submitted a revised comprehensive plan amendment to Lee County for the San Carlos Island development.

This time, the developer included two options to amend the comp plan to make way for the mixed-use development at 1195 Main Street. The site is currently home to a storage unit facility.

Developer Jack Mayher said he believes the new documents, submitted to the county April 13, address all of the concerns raised in October by Laura Belflower, Lee County Hearing Examiner, in her recommendation to remand the project back to staff. Belflower said in her memo that the request's density was not consistent with the Lee Plan for growth, incompatible with the surrounding commercial fishing corridor, and the current infrastructure was not adequate to accommodate the proposal.

"We've addressed every single concern," he said. "We answered it all."

In 2015, Mayher applied to the county to develop a 7.58-acre property on Main Street and Oak Street into a multi-use project. The original application included both a comprehensive plan amendment to change the designated land use from industrial development and suburban to central urban and an approval to rezone the property from mobile home residential, light and marine industrial, and commercial to mixed use planned development. The Local Planning Agency and the Hearing Examiner recommended either remand or denial of the project, and a bulk of island residents opposed the project. In November at the developer's request, the rezoning request was remanded back to county staff and the comprehensive plan amendment continued.

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In the new documents, the applicant still asks for a rezoning request and a comprehensive plan amendment to make the project possible - the same requests that the Hearing Examiner, called "too much density and too much intensity." The request was five times the allowed height and 2.5 times the building mass.

While the new revision does not alter the density and intensity of the original project - 113 living unit including 38 workforce housing units, a 500-space parking garage, a 286-slip dry storage building, 29 wet slips, and 30,000 square feet of commercial space - some of the project has been spatially redistributed.

Instead of all the condo units being together in one structure, the developer moved 15 units to the west side of the canal and converted them into town homes.

The original application also had a higher maximum height of 175 feet for the main building. In the revision, the main structure will be 130 feet high and the dry storage facility will be 65 feet. The current parameters in the Lee Plan cap height at 35 feet. The applicant also increased some setbacks along Main Street from 25 to 30 feet.

In the revision, the applicant provides an alternative option to a comprehensive plan amendment from industrial to central urban. As a different approach to the same project, the applicant proffers an amendment from industrial to Destination Resort Mixed Use Water Dependent (DRMUWD) future land use. According to the goals of the Lee Plan, this use can be applied to an area "characterized as predominantly impacted by a declining water dependent industry like commercial fishing."

While central urban focuses on the zoning of the property, the DRMUWD "clearly lays out the development parameters" and allows the county to review specific development details, the application states.

Mayher pointed out that unlike Central Urban, a waterside resort development has already been approved on San Carlos Island through the EbbTide project.

The DRMUWD option proposes amendments to the Lee Plan text in Goal 31.

The current goal is written as the following: "GOAL 31: DESTINATION RESORT MIXED USE WATER DEPENDENT (DRMUWD). To establish a land-use category that considers the uniqueness of water dependent land, with existing antiquated zoning, and outdated uses that will provide a mechanism to create an attractive, functioning mixed use destination resort." The amendment adds "...or a mixed use development with affordable housing that can support destination resorts and contains civic-related components such as public parking, public spaces, access to waterfront, enhanced streetscape, etc. through well planned redevelopment."

The amendment also adds language to another section to allow increased density as long as the additional units are labeled as affordable housing.

The developers met with the Beach Area Civic Association several times, and said in the application that the revision was submitted after having "spoken with members of the San Carlos Community."

"We've gone at great lengths, but not everyone will agree," Mayher said. "I think it's going to be a great project."

While many residents had previously protested that Bay Harbour Marina was too dense to be a good fit for the community, Mayher disagrees that it's any different than the surrounding streets: "It's a very dense community," he said.

Charlie Whitehead, leader of BACA, said the revisions probably won't cut it for many residents.

"There's no change to the units, no change to the parking garage," Whitehead said. "To many members of the Civic Association, those are deal-killers."

There is one change Whitehead said was for the better: the proposed second option would not request Central Urban land use on San Carlos Island.

"Destination resort is at least something else," Whitehead said.

However, Whitehead thinks the developers will have quite a few hurdles with the DRMUWD. It might not qualify as a small-scale amendment, as is the Central Urban request, so the approval would have to be sent to the state for final say. Also, the Lee Plan says that Destination Resort must sit on at least 8 acres, and at 7.47 of development area, Bay Harbour falls a little short.

"We're on the first step of a very long process, again," Whitehead said.

This revised document concerns the applicant's comprehensive plan amendment request, which was continued to a date uncertain after the rezoning request was remanded. As of Monday, county staff had not received any revised documents for the rezoning request. The new comprehensive plan amendment material is being reviewed by staff. It will then go to the Local Planning Agency and the Board of County Commissioners.



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