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Brandt seeks solidarity on northwest spreader issue

By Staff | Sep 29, 2010

Despite a majority support for the Northwest Spreader Ecosys-tem Management Agreement (NSEMA) benefit projects, Councilmember Pete Brandt still wants city council to show some solidarity as a governing body on the issue.
Brandt asked council to write a letter to the state of Florida on Monday stating that while all members of council might not support the net ecosystem benefit (NEB) projects list, none of them support putting the barrier back in.
Mayor John Sullivan and Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz voted against the projects.
“There were two votes against, not because they believed it was right to put the barrier back in, but because they did not support the slate of projects,” Brandt said Monday. “Two people dissented because they were nervous about it.”
Chulakes-Leetz said he felt the projects were being forced on the city by Pine Island and Matlacha, and the projects’ goals were not fair to Cape residents.
“I didn’t think the options afforded the citizens of this city were fair and equal,” he said.
Some of the NEB projects included a fertilizer ordinance and new seawall requirements, but the most controversial was a growth indicator that would dictate when sewers would be installed at homes near the spreader.
The projects were the result of a two-year process where “stake holders” from different public and private organizations came together to try and hammer out an agreement.
Sullivan said there was no proof that damage was being done by either sewer run-off or the broken barrier, and that it would be more prudent for the city to make a deal with the state as opposed to the stake holders.
He said some of the projects could have bankrupted the city, and that the stakeholders were trying to “pull the strings” of the city.
“I don’t like idea of these eco-terrorists putting a gun to our head,” Sullivan said.
The city has not yet transferred its vote to the state.
Though Lee County recently denied supporting the NEB projects, county staff recommended support.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said that putting the barrier back would merely be a waste of $3 million.
“Replacing the barrier would prove nothing,” McGrail said.
The council members supported all signing the letter that will be sent to the state.