Sunday, April 26, 2015

Proposed Development at Nela & Seminole - Meeting Tuesday

Many have received notice of a variance request for a proposed six home gated housing development at the intersection of Nela Avenue and Seminole Drive. Concerned residents have written to the Planning and Zoning Board as well as their City Commissioners regarding this variance request. A couple of these residents have requested publication of their comments, included below.

Please make time to attend the upcoming Planning and Zoning Board meeting this Tuesday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m., where the P&Z Board will address this gated development variance along with a fence variance at a location further down Seminole Drive.

You can read more about these variance requests in the attachments to the P&Z meeting agenda linked below as well as the below resident comments.

Belle Isle Planning & Zoning Board Meeting Agenda - April 28, 2015



Resident Comment #1

After seeing the request for variance and then reviewing the details, I am strongly opposed to the variance to allow for 6 homes on the parcel of land at Nela & Seminole.

1) This area of Belle Isle has a certain character & personality. Homes do not have walls surrounding them. The addition of 6 homes with a large concrete wall surrounding them certainly does not fit in with the area. I believe, if this were allowed, it would damage the character of Belle Isle that we all love & appreciate. That character is the reason why many of us moved here / lives here.

2) The lake lots on Seminole road all follow a pattern. Each has an entrance on Seminole and a deep lot extending to the lake. Any development on the property in question should continue this pattern.

3) Related to #2, all houses on Seminole and Nela have the front of the house facing the street. The proposed design would place the BACK of three homes on Seminole, which would be an oddity in the neighborhood and inconsistent with the current character. As with #2, the front of the homes built should be consistent with all other homes in the neighborhood and face the road.

4) A ‘Gated Community’ concept does not fit at all in this area. Nowhere on Nela or Seminole is there anything resembling this. And thus, to preserve the character, a gated community should not be permitted in this area.

5) The corner wrapping around the property in question is already dangerous. Adding an entrance/exit to a gated community will only add to the danger. The entrance(s) to any home(s) on that property should be on Seminole, not in the middle of an already dangerous curve.

Myself and many of the nearby neighbors recommend several options:

1) that the variance be denied and the lot be developed as it is currently split, with entrances from Seminole road.

-or-

2) that property be allowed to be split into 3 long lots, each running from Seminole to the lakeshore, with entrances from Seminole road. If this variance were allowed, no further splitting of the lot should be allowed.

Also, no wall should surround the development, but rather that natural hedges/landscaping be used.




Resident Comment #2

I would like to make some inquires regarding the proposed variance for the proposed six lot development at 6806 Seminole Drive, Belle Isle. My main concern is for ensuring that granting a variance for this project will not require future variances and exceptions that might undermine rules put in place for water quality and public health and safety purposes. Specifically considering,
  • The lots on the lake being able to meet septic setback requirements from Lake Conway without obtaining a variance to the rule from the Health Department.
  • Proper and permittable design of a stormwater system to capture stormwater runoff from the impervious area due to the increase in the number of lots.
  •  Maintaining the atmosphere of the neighborhood, along with considerations for water quality and public health and safety.

We all enjoy a beautiful community on Lake Conway and want to make sure that the character of the neighborhood is maintained, as well as ensuring Lake Conway is protected. In an area, one has a reasonable expectation of what the character of the neighborhood will be, especially in one as established as this. As Commissioners and Board Members, you are custodians of the City for the citizens and are charged with having consistent land development regulations. You have been entrusted with ensuring the best interest of the character of the neighborhood, such as the maintaining consistency with the home density of the existing neighborhood.

In the variance request, staff recommended approval based on the conditions of approval listed on page 12 of the variance application (page 14 of pdf document). I have some questions and concerns regarding or related to conditions 6, 7, and 8 of the variance “conditions of approval.” These specifically regard setbacks from the ordinary high water line of Lake Conway, environmental swale on lots 4, 5, and 6, and individual septic tank permitting.

Rule 64E-6.005(2), Florida Administrative Code requires septic systems not be located within five (5) feet of building foundations. Rule 64E-6.005(3), Florida Administrative Code requires that the systems be located at least 75 feet from the boundaries of surface water bodies. Based on the plans available on the Belle Isle website that were submitted for the variance, it appears the proposed homes are set back approximately 80 feet from Lake Conway, which would not leave enough space available to meet setback requirements for a septic system in the back yard of the lakefront homes.  Looking at the plans, with the driveway and setback from the road, it appears that there is limited space in the front yard with setback considerations taken into account. Septic systems could potentially range in size from 400-600 square feet of required drainfield area, in addition to placement of the tank. The rule is meant to protect water quality and public health. Please confirm that there will be adequate space on the lots to appropriately meet the minimum setback for the septic system of 75 feet away from a surface water body (Lake Conway) and not require a variance from the septic rule if a variance on lot width is granted.

Retention areas are an important part of pollution prevention by capturing the storm water runoff from directly discharging into the lake. This helps protect water quality in the lake our community surrounds. With the decrease in lot size and increase in number of homes, the impervious area of the project site will increase. Rule 62-330.020, Florida Administrative Code sets for the standard for requiring an environmental resource permit. With the number of lots, docks, and work in surface waters, the project would need a permit from the water management district. Under Section 5.2 (Treatment Volume) of Volume II of the Environmental Resource Permit Applicant’s Handbook, it requires the first flush of a rain event be routed into a retention basin and percolated into the ground. Based on the increase in impervious area by increasing the number of lots from four to six, I’m questioning whether the small swale proposed will be sufficient to hold the amount of water to meet the rule requirements. Is there an associated permit or calculations to show this area meets the rule and is of sufficient size? Also, it appears that the proposed environmental swale is within the flood zone and normal high water line listed on the plan sheets. For the purpose of the stormwater management system, having the system within the boundary of the normal high water area of the lot would not allow for adequate capture of stormwater runoff if it is under water.

I would like assurance that the Commissioners and/or Board Members granting a variance to reduce the lot width, which results in an increase in impervious area due to the increase in houses, will not result the site not being able to meet stormwater requirements required by the Florida Statutes and Florida Administrative Code. If a variance is granted, I would like assurance that it does not result in a snowball effect of requiring other variances or exceptions to meeting rule criteria designed for many reasons, one of which is protecting water quality and public safety.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of my inquiry and your response to my concerns. I hope that if it is determined this project meets within the characteristics of the neighborhood with the variance in place, that this project will show to meet all other applicable rule criteria related to stormwater management and septic systems.

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