ESTERO COMMUNITY PLANNING PANEL
Minutes of Public Meeting #148 - May 24, 2013
Estero Community Park, Estero, Florida
CALL TO ORDER:
The Meeting was called to order at 5:00 p.m. by ECPP Chairman Lienesch.
Panel Members present: Jack Lienesch, Chairman, Estero Community Association, Paul Roberts, Estero development community; Roger Strelow, ECCL; John Goodrich, ECCL, Ned Dewhirst, Estero development community, Jeff Maas, Estero Chamber of Commerce, Neal Noethlich, Emeritus Chairman, Greg Toth, Founding member, Howard Levitan, Secretary, and Bev MacNellis, Treasurer.
Also present: Kathie Ebaugh from Lee County Community Development, Jeremy Franz from the Conservancy, and Chip Block, Sr. Planner for Lee County. Also present were Bill Prysi and Tom O’Dea from the EDRC, and Don Eslick and Marilyn Edwards from the ECCL. There was a large attendance from the general public, including many people from the Rapallo Community.
Public Notice: Secretary Levitan reported that the meeting notice was posted on the ECPP website. He noted that a quorum of the ECPP was present for this meeting.
Minutes of the Prior Meeting. Chairman Lienesch noted that the minutes of the April 15, 2013 meeting had been vetted by the Panel, and the updated version is posted on our ECPP website. Motion made, seconded and unanimously passed to accept the report as written and amended prior to posting.
Treasurer’s Report: Treasurer MacNellis presented her Treasurers' Report and reported a balance of $369.68. She noted the disbursements for the month, and the receipt of two bills from Dan DeLisi. Motion made, seconded and unanimously passed to accept the Treasurers' Report as made.
Estero Place Administrative Amendment. Neal Communities was represented by Alexis Crespo from Waldrop Engineering, Steve Hartsell from the Pavese Law Firm, and by Michael Greenberg from Neal Communities. The Amendment is for the addition of 3 acres to the Master Concept Plan resulting in 10 more units. They anticipate going to the BOCC for a public hearing this summer. Some additional deviations were noted including connection separation distances on adjacent offsite roads especially River Ranch Road, reduction in buffering requirements for an internal project road abutting existing offsite residential land, and some signage deviations were noted as well. Regarding the signage deviations, Villa Palmeros (another Neal community) is underway across Three Oaks Parkway from this project, and they are looking for similar sign deviations for both developments, including the placement of Neal Communities logo on the monuments for both projects, similar to the Toll Bros Reserve development and Community Oaks. After the turnover, the HOA can decide on changing the signage. Regarding the other deviations, Chairman Lienesch asked if they had discussed the deviations with the neighbors, which Crespo replied that they had. The issue regarding the buffering was whether they need to build a wall if they go inside 30 feet of type F buffer. Ned Dewhirst said that he is of the opinion that they need to do a wall if they are less than 30 feet, and they should discuss this with the neighbor and either do a wall or do 30 feet of Type F buffer. They want a deviation for no wall and only 20 feet buffer. The Panel was uncomfortable with this deviation.
As to the signage, the Panel also had some concern about this deviation despite what appears to be a precedent with the Toll Brothers project on Estero Parkway. That project had not been reviewed by the ECPP since it was on the north side of Estero Parkway which for the most part is not within our planning district. The issue is what changes may be made in the Estero Community Plan and related LDC provisions. Bill Prysi, who is now acting as consultant on the revisions to the Community Plan stated that he has no concern with this deviation as it is pretty standard. At public hearing the abutters will be noticed and have the opportunity to object. The only issue for the Panel was the size of the buffer, and we want the developer to look at that more. In general, the 3 acre addition was not a problem for the Panel.
Neal Noethlich brought up the issue of improving River Ranch Road, which we had raised at the first hearing. The developer stated that the traffic study did not show the necessity for additional betterments. There are existing sidewalks with swales. The main issue is safety standards and amount of traffic at school time. When the developer goes through the DO process, the issue of improvements to River Ranch Road will likely be raised.
Subsequent to the date the Agenda for this meeting was published, there were some complaints about Villa Palmera development banners along their main entrance on Three Oaks. The banners violate the current Estero Signage rules in the LDC, and after notice to the developer have been removed. However, the developer advised the Panel that they will seek some deviation for banners on a temporary basis. They want to do this for special events including the grand opening in June, limiting their use for a specific amount of days. They stated that they would seek a temporary sign permit for such banners with a 15 day time limit on each occasion. They are looking for June 6 or 7 for their grand opening. Dewhirst and Lienesch both feel that this is acceptable for new projects at the outset of the sales and marketing efforts. The developers want permission for twice a year for special events like grand openings. The Panel in general thinks that this is acceptable for new projects coming into the community. Members of the community who spoke on this issue stated that we should be more liberal about these type of signs i.e. the allowance should apply to all businesses, not just new development projects. Toth suggested that if there is a violation of such a temporary sign permit, such developers should thereafter not be able to get a temporary permit.
Coconut Point Tract 1B DRI/Zoning Amendment for the Hertz Headquarters Building. Ned Dewhirst stated that he is abstaining from this discussion due to his involvement with the project. Matt Uhle, attorney for the Hertz Corporation (applicant) made the presentation on their behalf. The property in question is on the SE side of Williams Road and US 41 and includes 34.5 acres stretching south to the Via Rapallo roadway. This had been originally approved in 2002 as Tract 1B to the Coconut Point DRI, and had a wide range of commercial uses. In 2006 and 2007 an amendment application was filed for the Art District at Rapallo Project which had been planned for Tract 1B. An overlay had been created over the existing plan for a performing arts center and two large mixed use buildings with a maximum height of 4 stories and 55 feet in total. The Arts District project was never built. Several years ago there was a discussion of removing the overlay district for this tract, but nothing transpired. The two aspects which are involved in the current amendments are the DRI and the Zoning. Matt Uhle went on to describe the changes being sought by the developers.
The changes to the DRI include, among others, eliminating the overlay area for Tract 1B, adding approximately 400,000 square feet of office space, and increasing the number of assisted living units to the DRI. Also minor land use changes are being proposed on some of the other remaining tracts within the DRI. Traffic analysis has been done, and relative to the 2002 approvals it does not trip the substantial deviation threshold. The DRI amendment would not create new impacts for the roads. As to zoning portion of this project, they do not have a specific site plan to show the Panel at this time. They essentially are going back to the 2002 approvals, and they are seeking to change the height limitations to a maximum of 55 feet with 3 stories of offices over parking. In addition, Hertz wants to have a small car sales/leasing lot on the project. In general, they feel that it is likely that there will be multiple buildings on the site. They are well aware of Estero's concerns about architecture, and Uhle stated that Estero will be happy with the way the buildings look since they have to conform to the Coconut Point Design Review Guidelines (DRG). Multiple accesses to the adjacent existing roads are planned, and it is likely that the main access will be off of Williams Road. As to the small car lot, they intend to comply with the Estero regulations of one acre limitation on outdoor display of autos. They are looking at only a 50 car lot, which they say is clearly an ancillary use for the overall property. They will come back to the Panel on the site plan of this portion of the project, and they are not asking for any deviations with respect to this part of the project. It will comply with all of the buffer and landscaping requirements of the Community Plan, the County Comp Plan, LDC, and the Coconut Point DRG.
Questions from the Panel: Chairman Lienesch stated that clearly the planned office uses are increasing, the condos, retail, and arts center are removed, but the DRI will be adding some assisted living units (not part of the Tract IB plans). Goodrich expressed concerned about the location of the parking lots and visibility from the roads. Since there is no site plan to work with, he cannot really comment on the development until this is available. Uhle stated the buffer along US 41 including the berms and trees are already in place and consistent with the requirements of the LDC. Regarding Coconut Point DRG, Uhle went on to state that the developers are entirely aware of them and will be complying with these detailed design standards. Neal Noethlich passed out a list of proposed Automotive Use Conditions which included some concerns about the planned headquarters building. Uhle stated that the changes being sought for amendments regarding the car lot apply only to Tract IB not other parcels in the DRI. As to visibility from the streets, he pointed out that the current buffer areas on US 41 will stay, but he does not know where the car lot will go. Most of the questions could not be answered without a more detailed site plan which does not yet exist. The developer understands that visibility from the roads and from Rapallo will be a concern that they are aware of and have to comply with the County and Estero LDC and the Coconut Point DRG.
Strelow stated that his understanding of the intent of the car rental/sales operation is more of a testing or experimental site, rather than a full retail site. Noethlich went on to discuss the overall parking for the office space. He stated that it would be better for the Community if this is going to be a campus approach rather than one monolithic building. Uhle responded that there is currently an option for structured parking with 2 stories below the office space. The ALF is going on another parcel and is not involved on this tract. They want to have the site plan for Tract 1B before the June 27th HEX hearing, so that they can get feedback from the community.
Lienesch asked for feedback from the Rapallo Community based on the meeting that was held last week. Several members of the Rapallo Community were present and reported that they had some concerns about traffic. The current accesses which are on the ground will not be changed, with the main access off of Williams Road. Again, Rapallo will be waiting for the site plan to review before reacting. From the public, there were some concerns expressed about parking, access and traffic, and about the lack of a site plan at this point. On the current time frame, Uhle stated that the developers understand these concerns. This level of detail is not generally required for purposes of changes to the DRI and the Zoning. The site plan details will follow for purposes of the Development Order stage when they have to go to the EDRC with their design plans. Rapallo residents will have their concerns heard and addressed during this process. The Rapallo community seems to be in favor of structured parking or parking under the building rather than having acres of parking lots on the ground. Rapallo also does not want the car lot right on their main access (Rapallo Drive). The Williams Road access cut has not been built, but is clearly shown on the 2002 plan. Uhle went on to comment that when the Art District was being planned they had still been talking about a lot of building space and parking (over 900 spaces and about 700,000 square feet of buildings). Looking at the current building which serves as the Hertz Headquarters in New Jersey, it is in a residential area and given its superior look, it is highly likely that Hertz will build an attractive development here in Estero as well. The Coconut Point Design Standards would also likely mitigate against an unattractive development. Their timeframe is to start building in 2014 and complete sometime in 2015.
Several Panel members stated that they had no real objections to the DRI changes or the zoning amendments, but will withhold final comments until they see the site plan for the Tract IB development. Uhle stated that the developers will try to get back to us before the HEX with more detail about the car lot. Chip Block, attending the meeting, stated that he will be the chief reviewer of zoning for the County on this project. While there is an expedited hearing process, everyone can testify at the HEX and those that do so can also testify at the public hearing in front of the BOCC.
Summary: After discussion and hearing from the public, Chairman Lienesch restated the conclusions of the Panel; namely that, subject to substantial further review as Hertz’s plans are generated and presented, the Panel sees nothing inherently objectionable about the Hertz DRI/Zoning Amendments.
- Future Land Use Map Workshop. Kathy Ebaugh and Bill Prysi. Kathy presented again the Power Point Presentation New Horizon 2035 Amendments to Lee Plan. The EAR was adopted and now the Staff is working on the Comp Plan Amendments. The Vision Statement was adopted, and the key to the EAR is livable places, strong connections, community character (especially community planning), and balanced development. At this point, the LPA needs to review the Comp Plan as an overall document before it goes to the BOCC and the rest of the process. They need to make the LDC changes once the Plan has been adopted. They are hopeful that the process will be completed by end of 2014 or early 2015.
Central themes are to promote urban communities, support suburban communities, while maintaining rural areas. They want to facilitate mixed uses, expanding connections, and streamlining the development process. They also want to facilitate infill urban projects to relieve pressure on underlying larger parcels in the rural areas. Practices include higher densities, and development of mixed use centers. Three new urban land use categories have been set out which all allow for mixed uses and increased densities. Similar specified densities for suburban areas which were not changed from previous limitations. None of the rural categories was changed.
Looking at the FLUM, they have identified four areas for increased development, none of which are in Estero. In the mixed use areas, they are working with the local communities to develop master concept plans for specific areas that allow developers to go directly to the Development Order stage without having to get an MCP approved, thus streamlining the process. They are looking at connectivity as well as improved transportation, and including smaller public space in such mixed use developments. They see a real need to support streamlining in the development process as well.
As to Estero, Staff has tried to establish mixed use categories and other land use categories for our community. Predominantly Estero is in one or more of the suburban use categories. Some urban communities land use along the central corridor (See map attached). There is not a lot of change in Estero on the Staff plans, but we will likely need to make more changes as we look at the proposed FLUM. Urban Neighborhood allows for 8 units per acre but more incentive density would be available. The higher categories in the proposal would be 16-25 units per acre, so we may need to have more density in the central corridor. They may be open for change in this part of the FLUM. See also the DeLisi Framework Map which they have attached. We need to see how this fits in with the Staff FLUM Map. Therefore, there may be changes that we need to make in the Framework Plan which will be a part of the revised Community Plan consistent with the FLUM.
Kathie Ebaugh went on to summarize that we need to have a more specific discussion of what changes to the FLUM we should have. One comment was to change the areas along Via Coconut south of Corkscrew and near the Community Park running down to Williams, which should be reviewed in the context of encouraging future commercial mixed use development, especially in light of what is going to happen on the Hertz site. In other words would more density be encouraged, and, if so, which urban category would be more appropriate? Do we need to have the entire central core area of Estero changed from Urban Neighborhood with a maximum of 8 to Urban Places with higher density (25 maximum). They want to have our Community Plan go through the approval process together with the changes to the Comp Plan, but at very least have the FLUM changes done now. If we went to Urban Places the maximum density would be 25 units/acre with an FAR of 2 which would result in very high density and a large mass of buildings. We probably need to stay at an FAR of 1 in most of the core area. FAR 2 is a huge increase from what we have now. Strelow stated that the LPA has asked Staff to look at key places that there would be minimums of density. We need to get back to the Community Plan Amendments and our Framework Plan to overlap with the FLUM. Bill Prysi's contract is that he is doing the LDC changes, and Community Planning (Kathy Ebaugh and Matt Noble) are doing the Community Plan Amendments. Clearly Urban Neighborhoods classification may need to be looked at in the Core Corridor. We need to consider where to put the Urban Place category if we choose to do so. We need to better define the FLUM for Estero and the ultimate densities both for the residential development and commercial.
Chairman Lienesch suggested that perhaps we should map out the existing built out areas and keep them at what they actually were built out (e.g. most were done at 4 units/acre) rather than keep them in a suburban category with 6/acre. He stated that we need to have a longer workshop on this issue to identify areas where we want higher densities and to make sure it is the vision for Estero over the future. At next month's meeting, the Staff and Prysi could have a three hour workshop with a melding of our Framework Plan with their FLUM. Lienesch says we should make this as a special workshop for this purpose as opposed to the regular meeting date, with a target to get this done early in July. We clearly need to have better discussion of the policies and the maps in the Community Plan Amendments. Don Eslick pointed out that two dates are important; namely, the June 7th ACHA decision regarding the Lee Memorial Hospital proposal for the south end of our core corridor, and by end of June we should have all of the research from Seth Harry regarding the commercial un-built and zoned land in the Core Corridor. The plans are to have a public meeting on these conclusions early in July. Chairman Lienesch stated that he will send out proposed dates for this special meeting workshop which will be open to the public.
2. D&O Insurance is in place and on credit.
3. Walmart Sidewalk issue. Changes will be proposed to solve this issue.
Member Issues: No Member issues were discussed.
Next Meeting is on June 17, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. at Estero Community Park. The Meeting was adjourned at 7:55 p.m.
Howard Levitan, Secretary