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We walk the walk, talk the talk

By Staff | May 6, 2011

To the editor,

The founders of Sanibel consciously, deliberately placed preservation over the money that could be made from the exploitation of the island. They walked the walk.

When Mayor Carla Johnston met the Colonel of the Army Corp of Engineers regarding water releases from Lake O, the environmental credibility of Sanibel went with her. When Vice Mayor Mick Denham meets with various officials regarding the effects of fertilizer run-off on our waters, the environmental credibility of Sanibel goes with him.

Why do our representatives have immediate credibility on environmental issues? Because for decades, the City of Sanibel has walked the walk as well as talked the talk.

An episode in the very early history of the city illustrates. Shortly after incorporation, an attorney from Naples who was a partner in a Lee County approved development project on Sanibel brought suit in State Court asserting that the State Legislature had wrongfully granted incorporation to Sanibel.

As a consequence of that suit, Lee County, which had opposed incorporation, halted the transfer of funds to the city. That left the fledgling city with no funds and a lawsuit to defend. The citizens of Sanibel put up $250,000, which allowed the city to function. Had the city lost, the citizens’ money would have been lost too. Those people walked the walk.

A building code based on a scientific analysis of the island was adopted. It changed the course that Lee County had planned for Sanibel by limiting human activity to allow nature to survive. The expectation was that all buildings would at some point come into compliance. (This is not unique to Sanibel. That is the point of having a code — to set a standard and have compliance to that standard.) The framers of our plan walked the walk.

A section of the proposed resort housing ordinance will undo the Sanibel Plan with regard to density. This is the very issue that prompted incorporation in the first place. Our founders saw Sanibel’s economic prosperity linked to the island’s environmental well being. They did the heavy lifting by incorporating and creating the Sanibel Plan.

As yet we have not had a discussion, with all the facts on the table on this most vital issue. That talk is the least we owe our founders. Are we to become the generation unable to walk the walk?

We are jeopardizing the Sanibel Plan and our credibility on environmental issues that our founders struggled to establish.

Please express your concerns to the City Council by e-mailing sancouncil@mysanibel.com.

Karen Storjohann