Please note: Minutes are draft until approved by membership
Greater Pine Island Civic Association Meeting Minutes, Oct. 3, 2023, Pine Island United Methodist Church
Board Members Present: Deborah Swisher-Hicks, President; Nadine Slimak, Vice President; Mike Sweeney, Treasurer Board Members Sue Dahod and Tim Heitz. (Excused: Scott Wilkinson, Connie D’Alessio, Shari Perkins)
32 attendees signed in. The livestreamed meeting was viewed more than 400 times on Facebook (estimated reach 1,010).
President Deb Swisher-Hicks opened the meeting at 6:34 p.m.
Treasurer Mike Sweeney presented the September 2023 GPICA Treasurer’s report and Chiquita Lock funding update:
- Money Market $16,764.22
- Checking $8,095.79
- CD Investment $76,656.20**
INCOME TOTAL (since August 1, no September meeting): $1,404.02
- $170 cash/check memberships
- $1,234.22-online membership purchases, including one lifetime membership
EXPENSE TOTAL: $803.97
- $300-October Church rental
- $503.97-Hartford Liability Insurance for 2023-2024
**CHIQUITA LOCK (CL) LEGAL DEFENSE STATUS
- Original GPICA Pledge: $2,500
- Donations from Members: $2,725
- Matching GPICA donations: $2,725
- Bill from Chiquita Lock Lawyer: ($2,500)
- Current Total: $5,450
**Background: GPICA agreed to a funding match for all CL Fund donations made by GPICA members. Currently two donations have been submitted using our online payment system, Squareup.com, which deducts a fee for the use of its services. GPICA is supporting the full match and making up the payment difference. (i.e. GPICA received a $25 donation [Square service fee $1.03] and a $200 donation [$5.30 Square service fee] and GPICA is making up the $6.33 difference.)
Letter received from Mike Hannon from the Matlacha Civic Ass., liaison between GPICA and the lawyer handling the CL issue from Tampa. Mike indicated that there will be a request soon for additional dollars, so our CL account total will be going down soon.
- Motion to approve Treasurer’s Report was made, seconded and motion carried.
President Deb Swisher-Hicks noted that there were June and August minutes on-line and requested approval of these minutes.
- A motion was made to approve both sets of minutes, as written, was seconded and motion carried.
President Deb Swisher-Hicks then introduced Lee County Commissioner for District 1, Kevin Ruane. Mr. Ruane brought a number of Lee County Managers including Dave Harner, County Manager; Glen Salyer, Assistant County Manager; Mark Mora, Assistant County Manager; Mikki Rozdolski, Director of Community Development; Randy Cerchie, Director of Lee County Department of Transportation and LDOT Deputy Director Rob Price.
Commissioner Ruane made preliminary comments on the following:
Roundabout: The County had nothing to do with putting in a state funding request for a roundabout at the center. The County is not moving forward with the project unless the Community tells him to do something different. The Community has told him they don’t want a roundabout. A problem with implementing the roundabout is that you need additional property to install it, which means the County would need to acquire rights-of-way to the tune of $1.8m. The Project is short approximately $800k. It was stated that “We are certainly not going to do a roundabout at that. We recognize there is an issue, we will look at other solutions, but a roundabout isn’t on the table.”
The Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery Program: The county was awarded $1.1 billion grant in May & had 120-days to submit a plan for the money back to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 120-day deadline was Sept. 20. County submitted a play by deadline, which included the need for an additional $8 billion. Discrepancy between award and request is not uncommon. HUD has 60-days to review Plan and have direct correspondence with the County. The 60-day deadline for HUD is around Thanksgiving.
Questions of the Commissioner revolved around:
-Trying to get Block Grant monies in the hands of the people as-soon-as-possible. There was a discussion about the process and the fact that HUD still has 60-days to respond, and the County currently does not have any of the CDBG money.
-How can the home permitting process be sped up, even though there has been a 23-person increase in permitting staff? A long discussion was had about the additional staff already added to the permitting process. The problem seems to revolve around getting qualified people, with the right credentials, to review housing permitting. Other permitting requests (away from housing) appear to be approved on a timely basis. There was also acknowledgement that this was the largest hurricane on record and that it just takes time to ramp up sufficiently to get back to a more normal building permitting schedule.
-What is going to happen to the pot of money that was allocated to the roundabout? Monies can be used to solve the problem it was originally allocated for and cannot be used for other issues.
-Will the County come to the community to discuss a possible final solution to the Pine Island 4-way stop congestion. The County has received positive and negative comments for all possible solutions (Roundabout, stop signal, continuing the 4-waystop and quadrant roads). The County identified quadrant roads as a “whole other animal.” The County said they would come out and talk to the public to get opinions.
-Building height restrictions. The County Land Development Code restrictions to make it consistent across the County were recently adopted. All heights are now measured from base height elevation. Previously, the starting point from elevation varied throughout the County.
-Old Development Orders and getting them sunset. There is a provision in the Land Development Code that allows Development Orders to be extended if in “active pursuit”, which means they are moving toward completion. The language is vague. State law also allows Development Orders to also be extended based on emergency orders as well. This law allows extensions based on events like Charley and Ian, for example. Developers know and understand the law around “active pursuit.”
-Destruction that still exists in Matlacha. Multitude of issues potentially keeping these properties in their current state. First, there are rights of the person who owns the property. Second, property owners are indicating they are having insurance disputes. Third, developing a plan of what to do with the property, including recent changes in the County Land Development Code. The County is more than willing to take responsibility to demolish property for property if that is the owner’s decision.
Nomination for Community Action Advisory (CAA) Committee. The GPICA Board met and asked one of its board members, Susan Dahod, to participate in planning, perform evaluations and provide guidance on programs implemented in the lives of low income and low risk residents of Lee County. While final authority rests with the Board of County Commissioners, the CAA provides valuable input. Susan provided a brief overview of her background.
A motion was made to approve Susan Dahod to serve as a member of the CAA Committee. It was seconded and the motion carried.
Comments from Membership
Charlie Messina then requested to make a motion to form a committee to move forward on incorporation of the Island. It was determined that it was beyond the purview of members to set up committees. The GPICA Board would have to set up the committee, but that there was nothing stopping any Pine Islander from setting up a group to get incorporation rolling. A specific question was asked by a member about the Board’s follow-up on considering moving forward with incorporation. It was stated by President Swisher-Hicks that the Board is still considering it, looking at what it would require of us and whether the Board could fulfill that properly for Pine Island. It was noted that undertaking such an effort requires a lot of time and funding. At this point, the Board does not have the human capital to consider moving forward.
—Respectfully submitted by Steve Eldredge, Acting Secretary