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Marine davit deviation appeal denied by council

March 18, 2014
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The owner of a marine davit constructed without a permit and in violation of city setback code lost his appeal of the Board of Zoning Adjustment & Appeals application denial by City Council vote on a resolution Monday night.

Council heard the details of the staff report from city planner Chad Boyko and the reasons for the zoning board's denial of a deviation request to allow the davit to remain in place. Basically, the board denied the deviation from setback code because it was constructed without a permit, may cause a navigation hazard and is less than a foot from the property line.

Owner Elmer Ehlert disagrees with the issue that the davit would cause a navigation hazard because it lifts his boat to shore.

"How can something that is not in the water be a navigation hazard," he said. "Leaving the boat in the water at the end of the canal would be more of a hazard."

Ehlert's property is at the dead end of the Sarasota Canal on Sarasota Court. The part-time resident moved one of the two davits already on his property several feet toward the property line to accommodate a larger boat.

Ehlert was cited for the permit violation and the subsequent building permit application was rejected because of the setback code violation. Ehlert appealed the decision seeking a deviation with the zoning board, which was denied.

Neighbor Mal Hee Wallace, whose property to the west adjoins Ehlert's, objected to the davit's new positioning near the property line. She told council she was told by a friend in real estate that it would lower her property's value and make it harder to sell in the future.

Council was given two options to act on the resolution. Approve the appeal which would reverse the zoning board's decision to deny the deviation, or deny the appeal and uphold the zoning board's decision.

Councilmember Jim Burch made a motion to approve the appeal and Councilmember Derrick Donnell, a bit reluctantly, seconded "for discussion purposes."

Councilmember Lenny Nesta said, "The whole issue here is that it was done without a permit. I don't want to OK this one and send a message to others that they can do it this way. There is a reason for permits."

Councilmember Rick Williams noted, "I'm concerned with safety and the fact it was put in without a permit. The underlying issues is the deviation."

Councilmember John Carioscia expressed two issues at stake, the lack of a permit and setback violation."

"We don't know how much steel and concrete were used, whether it meets hurricane standards due to our weather in the summer," said Burch. "We don't want that boat flying around in a storm if the davit fails."

Burch wanted to amend his motion to compel an inspection of the davit until the city attorney explained that an engineering report on the davit does not go away if Burch's motion passes. Ultimately, Donnell withdrew his second of the motion and no one else picked it up.

Councilmember Richard Leon then made a motion that council deny the appeal, upholding the zoning board's decision and thereby deny the marine improvement deviation. Donnell immediately seconded and council voted 7-1.

In other agenda business Monday night, council was introduced to three upcoming ordinance public hearings and all three hearings were set for March 31.

One ordinance, 5-14, repeals existing Land Use & Development regulations concerning flood damage prevention and replaces it with floodplain management regulations coordinated with the Florida Building Code and meet requirements to maintain the city's participation in the National Flood Insurance Program

Ordinance 6-14 amends Article XII of the Land Use & Development regulations to update building codes adopted for use in the city and adding regulations concerning floodplain management.

Ordinance 8-14 dissolves the Civilians Police Review Board by repealing ordinance code sections that established and regulated the board.

City Council's next regular board meeting is Monday, March 24.



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