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Lee commissioners say no to Windjammer

February 13, 2013
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

Four members of the Lee County Board of County Commissioners voted down the Windjammer RV Resort during their Feb. 4 meeting with prejudice.

Since Commissioner John Manning disagreed with the hearing examiner and the staff's recommendation, he motioned that they decline the Windjammer RV Resort's rezoning from residential multi-family to recreational vehicle planned development without prejudice.

The motion passed 4-1 with Commissioner Tammy Hall dissenting.

"Where I have hesitation, as I read this proposal, is it seems to me that the neighbors would probably say with the reduction in intensity, this would have been something that they would have been more comfortable with, obviously not the case," Commissioner Frank Mann said during the Monday meeting.

Laura Belflower, hearing examiner, approved the rezoning after a hearing was held in November for the Windjammer RV Resort to rezone a 57-acre property on Pine Island, earmarked for a 302 residential multi-family development, to a recreational vehicle development for an RV park with a maximum of 200 sites.

The property, which is located at the western end of Turtle Trail Lane, is already largely cleared due to a development order approving the original multi-family units, which expires on Aug. 18, 2013.

Manning said although he realizes that the density of the RV park is substantially below the multi-family home development, the types of uses are totally different.

"When we put commercial activity within the park, you have a totally different relationship in the property," he said.

Manning said with eight deviations requested, it provides a demonstration of compliance with those deviations. He said he disagrees with half of the deviations that were conditional and approved.

"It is very rare that I don't agree with staff," he said. "I am going to vote against this application because I don't agree with all the findings and conclusions."

Manning went on to say that he does not have a problem with high-end RV Parks within the appropriate location.

"The compatibility issue for me rises to the top," he said.

Russell Schroop, an attorney with Henderson, Franklin, Starnes and Holt, P.A., said compatibility in most people's minds in a subjective thing. He said the RV park proposal is 34 percent less density than the residential multi-family development, which, in turn, will provide 58 percent less traffic. In addition, Schroop said the RV park will have lower heights than the residential multi-family development, as well as two to three times more vegetation buffers of the perimeter of the property.

Mann said his concern is the overwhelming number of motor homes that the developer is trying to put into the park. Mann said if the park were 20 percent occupied during a hurricane, there would be a lot of evacuations that would have to take place.

He said if the intensity was geared down, he could have agreed, but the way it is with 200 lots, he would disagree that it is compatible or appropriate in this site. Mann said if the developer redesigned the RV park and brought it back scaled down he would take another look.

"I'm not closing the door to a revised application if scaled down substantially," he said.

Commissioner Larry Kiker raised the question of a staging area because if three or four campers come at once it would become an issue.

"I guarantee they all come in at 5 p.m., Friday or Saturday," Kiker said. "I have watched these at work and it could cause a pretty good traffic jam if not careful."

He was assured that there would be a staging area within the development that would ease that problem.

Hall said she was going to support the Windjammer RV Resort regardless of the motion. She said a similar park that is located on Luckett Road has over 400 units with two-way roads.

"Over the years it has proven to be a fantastic neighbor," she said.



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