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Cape consideration of ‘spreader’ agreement postponed

By Staff | Jul 31, 2010

A city decision on the North Spreader Ecosystems Management Agreement has been postponed for two weeks so all of the stakeholders can vote.
The agreement was taken off the Cape Coral City Council agenda for Monday, Aug. 2, and will be placed for discussion on Aug. 16 and voted on Aug. 23, according to District 2 Councilmember Pet Brandt, the city’s liaison to the stakeholder’s group.
Twenty groups, which include environmental organizations, select individuals, Lee County, Charlotte County, Cape Coral and the Department of Environmental Protection.
They began meeting in July 2008 to protect environmental quality and wildlife habits in Matlacha Aquatic Preserve, the state-owned buffer preserve and Charlotte Harbor in relation to the city’s North Spreader canal system and the entire 117-mile Gator Slough watershed.
In July 2008, the Ceitus stormwater barrier and boat lift were removed to arrest further erosion damage to the tidal wetlands and mangrove forest.
Brandt said he is supportive of the projects that will provide an ecological benefit that is superior to replacing the barrier.
Approximately five or six stakeholders have voted to put the barriers back in, which, he said, is a disaster.
He explained that to put a barrier back in the water would first require applying for a permit to put it reinstall it.
Right now the controversy that surrounds the North Spreader Ecosystem, is what any such barrier would have to accomplish.
The current discussion is that the barrier should “completely separate Cape Coral waters from state waters.”
That “is a lot more than what the original barrier would have been,” he said.
“That’s a huge test,” Brandt said. “The barrier has to go the full length of the west side of the canal. I don’t see that is economically feasible to consider.”
Brandt said he believes the majority of votes would be construed by the court as a consensus vote.
The Lee County Board of County Commissioners is expected to vote on the agreement on Aug. 10 and Charlotte County will vote the morning of Aug. 23.
“We are just waiting for the rest of the stakeholders to vote,” he said, adding that the last stakeholders to vote before Cape Coral will be the morning of Aug. 23.
Certain environmental groups want the barrier back to help limit the amount of pollutants that float back in the bay.