by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Sanibel Captiva Community Bank received approval for a drive-through automated teller machine at its soon-to-be second branch location, 1019 Periwinkle Way. Planning Commission approved the conditional use permit this week by a vote of 6-1.
Commissioner Ty Symroski voted against approval because he thought it should be tabled to the May 10 meeting when commissioners will evaluate the bank’s landscaping plans for a waiver of the 15-feet vegetation setback on the sides of the building. SCCB was unable to schedule the conditional use permit and waiver applications concurrently.
The 15-foot vegetation buffer in the back of the building, between the proposed drive-through ATM and the Beach Road Villas condominiums, was one of the main issues discussed in Tuesday’s hearing. Two Beach Road Villas residents expressed concern over lighting, including the intrusion from vehicle headlights.
Commissioner Symroski advocated for an opaque buffer. “I really think we need to enhance a very opaque buffer between the drive-through and the houses in the back,” he said. “I would like to see a fence.”
Planning Supervisor Craig Chandler explained the locations with less than the 15-feet buffer requirement are on the sides of the building and the back buffer will meet the requirement. He said it is standard for there be buffer at all three levels – ground cover, mid-size shrubs and small trees, and larger canopy trees.
Gus Simmons, the bank’s attorney, said vehicle headlights towards Beach Road Villas will be brief as they will point toward Periwinkle Way when drivers use the machine. “Candidly, I don’t know how many people will use the ATM after dark,” he said.
Intrusion from a light on top of a Lee County Electric Cooperative utility pole was also of concern. While there are currently no plans by the bank to change the light, Chandler said he would talk to public works to determine who has authority over it.
Commissioner Laura DeBruce said she had traffic concerns. She asked Chandler if city staff was concerned with the potential of a traffic increase and comfortable with the traffic study.
“The study is consistent with the traffic demand produced by a permitted use,” said Chandler. “For the parking analysis, we anticipate less demand for parking with the ATM. Yes, staff does find the application, relative to traffic and parking impacts, does comply and demonstrate compatibility.”
Sarah Peck, an island resident and member of Committee of the Islands, said, “the issues raised were thoughtful considerations, but one not raised, and worthy of consideration, is a drive-through encourages the idling of cars which produce emissions.”
She added that “as a community concerned about the environment and has traffic issues already, inviting more emission releases as a drive-through. We might want to think more about ‘do we want businesses developing drive-through facilities.’”
Commission Chair Roger Grogman encouraged a conversation between the bank and Beach Road Villas HOA to address concerns. Simmons indicated the bank would be “completely open to meeting with them.”
Among other agenda items, Forever Green Shopping Center was granted a continuance on its application to expand Cip’s Place Restaurant into an adjacent unit. The restaurant is proposing an additional 44 indoor seats and 21 outdoor seats. The hearing was continued to June 14.