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Update on the Matlacha Residential Overlay

March 8, 2011
By KATHY MALONE, Matlacha Civic Association

Since 2005 and through 16 public meetings, the Matlacha Civic Association has taken the lead in simplifying typical home building permitting in Matlacha. As developed through the Association’s Overlay Plan Committee, it’s consultant and with terrific citizen input, in January of this year the Association submitted the Overlay for initial County review.

The Overlay is conceived and designed as a regulatory streamlining program. It will typically save property owners months of time and from $7,000 to $9,000 in permitting costs. This is because new home construction usually requires variances due to the island’s small lots. What the Overlay accomplishes is an easing in front and rear yard setbacks, from 25-feet to 18-feet. Such regulatory revisions grant flexibility to the homeowner in designing and building a new home. These revisions will substantially reduce the need for costly variances and in doing so will save $1,000’s.

A second purpose of the overlay was to address the Mega-home construction trends on Matlacha. Homeowners and residents became concerned when massive block-like homes were being built, blocking out views and light, and creating drainage problems for adjacent lots.

The mission was to come up with moderate and respectful ways to balance homeowner rights with the communities desire to eliminate the nuisances caused by new Mega-home construction. The Overlay Plan does so primarily by a property rights friendly reduction in building height, from 38-feet to 32-feet. Other revisions to the Land Development Code are equally minor, from designing a matrix that has specific setback and lot coverage requirements based on the size and configuration of a lot, to requiring newly constructed docks to set back 5-feet from the adjoining property line.

This past October, a flyer that detailed the proposed Overlay was delivered to all affected residences. A public meeting followed in which a final version of the plan was presented, discussed and debated. In November 2010 a vote was taken. With a larger than usual crowd of 57 members and residents present, 91.23 percent of those present voted to submit the plan to Lee County for further rule development and review. Since then, two meetings with Lee County staff have helped further simplify the plan. It is currently undergoing County Attorney review, which will be followed this April by having formal Lee County public hearings on the proposed Land Development Code Rule changes. We are expecting three county review boards plus the final hearing before the Lee County Commissioners. These formal reviews are advertised and the public is welcome to attend and speak. We also intend to keep everyone informed through news articles such as this.

By enacting needed code revisions that will serve to implement the new Overlay Plan, Matlacha residents and owners can avoid expensive variance processes, saving time and money. Updates on the Plan are given regularly at Matlacha Civic Association meetings. These meetings are free and open to all. Call 283-3762 or 282-9540 for additional information.

Next MCA meeting, March 15

The next meeting is Tuesday, March 15, at 6 p.m., Art Association building, Matlacha Park. Due to the recent tire slashing incident and previous arson of historic Matlacha buildings a representative from the Sheriff’s Department is invited to speak on the sudden and unusual amount of crime in our community. If you had a tire slashed the night of Tuesday, Feb. 22, you should file a report with the Sheriff even if you do not intend to file an insurance claim. Call the non-emergency number 477-1000. The crime was under-reported. The Sheriff needs to know how serious and uncommon this crime was for our usually safe community.


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