Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
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Bike lanes, easing of permitting rules on agenda

ISLAMORADA -- Councilman Mike Forster will propose a network of bicycle lanes in the neighborhoods of north and middle Plantation Key when the Village Council convenes Thursday, Aug. 22.

"It's more for child safety than anything," Forster said. "It seems like the right thing to do."

Forster's proposal comes in response to a letter-writing campaign organized by north Plantation Key resident and former councilwoman Jill Zima Borski, and its timing is related to the upcoming road repaving on the island, where the sewer system work has wrapped up.

"I really believe that if we don't do it now, we never will," Borski said.

The $8.25 million villagewide repaving contract doesn't call for bike lanes. But Forster will propose that four streets that are commonly used by cyclists and pedestrians, including school children, be widened to accommodate such lanes. Those streets are Sunshine Boulevard in Kahiki Harbor, Seminole Boulevard in Indian Waterways and Royal Poinciana Boulevard and Woods Avenue in Plantation Key Colony.

Borski said she'd like the lanes to be 6 feet wide. An engineering estimate put the cost of a bike lane on Royal Poinciana at $80,000, Wastewater Program Manager Greg Tindle said.

Forster lives on Seminole, but says that's not a motivation for him.

"To be honest with you, it's going to hurt me more than help me, because I don't have children," he said.

Also on Thursday, the council will consider several ordinances that are part of the ongoing process of easing permitting and development procedures in the village.

One ordinance, for example, would tweak the village's rules on clearing hardwood hammocks in order to construct a home. It would allow lot owners to clear at least 3,000 square feet of hammock, making development easier on the smallest parcels. Under the current rule, a maximum of 50 percent of the hammock on a parcel can be cleared, but without the 3,000-square-foot minimum, Village Manager Ed Koconis said.

Another ordinance to be considered Thursday would reduce backyard setbacks for small structures like a shed.

A different type of item scheduled for Thursday is the resumption of a hearing over a dock variance for an oceanfront property near mile marker 89. Scott Daiagi wants to build a 325-foot dock off his property there, 225 feet longer than the village would allow without a variance.

The Planning Department had recommended approval of the variance before a May 23 hearing, when Daiagi and his representatives battled it out with neighboring property owners Ron and Mary Fairless.

But after much debate, the hearing was delayed that night pending more evidence. Planners have since reversed their recommendation, citing information that came to light from a newly submitted survey and other documents.

Finally, on Thursday, the council will consider a lease agreement on a property owned by the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District that sits between the Bernard Russell Fire Station and the Helen Wadley Branch Library on Upper Matecumbe Key. The lease would cost just $1 per year, though the village would need to spend $12,000 to improve the property.

The Islamorada Fire Department would use the site for overflow parking and occasional training, Koconis said.

rsilk@keysnews.com

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