The city’s priority should be recovery, not complexity

In one of the most traumatic events of their lives, residents of the City of Naples who suffered property damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian faced a complex zoning code change proposal that could affect property values ​​and further restrict property rights. According to members of the Naples City Council, the zoning code change is intended to preserve the “small town character” of Naples. However, its passage could deter investors who could take advantage of current homeowner distress and open the door to the “wrong kind” of redevelopment. The proposed zoning code has been removed from the table, but only temporarily.

As noted in a Planning Department memorandum, the proposed zoning code change introduces new limits on lot coverage, expands its landscaping requirements, and includes covered verandas and driveways in the calculation of lot coverage. the total area of ​​the building. As the voice of Collier County realtors, the Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR) respects the city’s need to operate, but is concerned that changing the city’s zoning code at some point where owners are in distress only makes it more challenging and challenging. for families to rebuild and recover.

NABOR believes that those who suffered damage from Hurricane Ian should be allowed – without restriction – to rebuild their homes to a pre-Ian condition. This includes homeowners who have a home on incompatible land or those applying for a permit to increase the elevation of their home.

NABOR believes that instead of increasing the complexity of zoning codes that can discourage feared behavior, members of city council should observe how the City of Cape Coral is helping its residents with changes to its code that make it easier to quick homeowner rebuilds, especially with regards to FEMA’s 50% rule. Additionally, for property owners deciding to sell their properties, the city council should not interfere by attempting to set new lot size limits or impose new regulations that discourage buyers.

Creating uncertainty for owners will delay the recovery process. The additional time and skill required to understand, integrate and inspect work under the proposed new code will further complicate an already stressful situation. Finally, the introduction of lot coverage changes in code at this time could also impact property values ​​when a resident’s home may be the only valuable asset they have left.

We congratulate the property owners and community leaders who attended the October 31 city council meeting and encourage them to continue to make their voices and views heard. Unfortunately, at its Nov. 2 meeting, City Council clarified that it “took zoning progress off the table” at the Oct. 31 meeting, but “there is no intention, just because we had a storm, not to work on the planning priorities we had. Although the city council clarified that it would “identify, with the assistance of the building department and other staff, the elements that we could look at in our building code, our processes and our protocols that could help landlords in the short term.”

NABOR’s role in the community will never change. NABOR will always defend the property rights of citizens. With this in mind, we will continue to engage in discussions in which we believe our expertise and advice as an organization of estate agents can help city leaders build future councils for landlords that will protect the way of life. of Naples and will improve the lives of new, future and long-timers. residents.

Sharon D. Cole