County seeks community input for New Horizon 2035 project
Representatives from the Lee County Planning Division attended the Tuesday meeting of the Captiva Community Panel to present an initial overview on the purpose and status of the County’s “New Horizon 2035” process, a comprehensive review of the Lee Plan through the year 2035, that will hopefully lead to a growth and land use plan for unincorporated Lee County that will facilitate sustainable, self-sufficient communities.
County planning officials held a public visioning workshop on May 13 at the Captiva Memorial Library, and on Tuesday, Matt Noble and Jerry Murphy of the Lee County Planning Division presented results from the workshop, combined with results from several other public visioning workshops that took place throughout the county, to the panel.
The State of Florida requires an Evaluation Appraisal Report (EAR) every seven years. At the direction of the Board of County Commissioners, the Lee County Planning Division is taking a look at the entire Lee Plan and talking to communities all over the County under the heading of “New Horizon 2035,” a complete revision of the Lee Plan and the Lee Land Development Code.
“There is a concern that the Lee Plan has been an excellent suburban development model, and we really can’t afford suburbia anymore, we’ve got enough of it, and so there needs to be a change and the plan,” Murphy said.
“I think that Captiva is kind of a microcosm of what we’ve heard county-wide and I think that participants from Captiva framed it up nicely. They focused on global issues, not just local issues. Some communities looked inward, and I think Captiva looked outward,” Noble said.
Max Forgey, who has done extensive work with the Panel in trying to bring Captiva’s Land Development Code up to date, agreed.
“The participation that Captiva provided was concerned with global issues, like erosion, but there was a lot of concern with the larger county and things like some of the loss of habitat, the roadway network. I know the table I was sitting at during the workshop had a broad view of Lee County’s future,” Forgey said.
Earlier in Tuesday’s meeting, the Panel approved a contract they asked Forgey to prepare and submit which will continue his planning services with the panel.
“The take-home message of the Captiva workshop was ‘more dozing bulls, fewer bulldozers’ and that resonated throughout the entirety of your efforts,” Murphy said. “It shows that you clearly understood the focus on the larger county for this EAR aspect.”
In combining feedback and areas of concern from all of the public visioning workshops that took place over the summer, Lee County planners came up with four predominant issues that held great importance in all communities: livability, strong connections, community character and sustainability.
Noble said that all of the documentation outlining these four core issues — in addition to background information on the EAR, Lee Plan and New Horizon 2035 — is online and there is still plenty of time for citizens to comment.
“It’s an ongoing project,” Murphy said, noting that he and Noble will attend future Panel meetings to further illustrate the issues the Planning Division is working on. “We expect to show you the solutions that the County and the consultants have developed to address the issues and opportunities that were raised early on, and to get some feedback from you if you think we’re going in the right direction.”
To view and comment on the Lee County Planning Division’s New Horizon 2035 project, go to www.lee-county.com.