To the editor:
In response to the recent letter by Michael Clark, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But no one is entitled to make up their own facts. The facts of the Matlacha Overlay are this:
1) You Cannot Build Back Your Home Following A Natural Disaster: Nothing in the Civic Association's and staff's ordinance, along with current Lee County rules, prohibits a homeowner from building back their home to the identical degree and intensity of what they previously had. The new Overlay rules do not prevent a post-disaster build-back to the property owner's original intensity (see Ord.#94-30, #00-22, #03-04). In other words, if one had a three-story, 8,000-square-foot home, they will have the undisputed right to build back the same type of home and intensity, without worrying about conforming to the new rules.
2) The Rights Established By Prior Granted Variances Will Be Lost: Nothing in the Civic Association's and staff's ordinance, along with current Lee County rules, "de-vests" a homeowner's legally obtained variance. Unless there is some sort of "sunset provision" or specific limiting condition built into the granted variance, the variance that a property owner has, he or she will get to keep. In other words, if a homeowner has a variance for a 42 percent lot coverage, decides on tearing down and rebuilding, he or she will keep the 42 percent lot coverage.
3) Substantial Improvement Criteria: Nothing in the Civic Association's and staff's ordinance, along with current Lee County rules, change the way Lee County has been doing business regarding the Land Development Code and Zoning Code. For years when Lee County changes the code, which it does often, then the new rules come into effect after the homeowner/builder/developer exceeds the 50 percent substantial improvement criteria established. If a property owner wants to tear down his home and the new home exceeds the 50 percent criteria (which it probably will) then the property owner will have to meet the new rule. If it is less than 50 percent then the new rules do not apply. This fact is the same throughout the county.
4) Variances Are Prohibited: A homeowner will be able to petition county government for any and all variances, with the exception of building height, vertical plane and the 40 percent lot coverage and second floor reduced building coverage for new construction.
Do not take my word for it, please feel free to verify these facts with the head of the County's Building Department, Bobby Steward 533-8345 (RStewart@leegov.com), the head of the Department of Community Development Mary Gibbs (email@example.com), or the lead County Attorney Michael Jacob 533-2236 (MJacob@leegov.com).