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County files formal challenge on Ceitus barrier

By Staff | Jun 4, 2011

Lee County has filed its petition for a formal administrative hearing to replace the Ceitus barrier, challenging the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s decision to deny Cape Coral’s permit application.
The petition claims that not only does DEP not want to approve the permit and is violation of its own consent order, but the city of Cape Coral is actively trying to sabotage that process.
“It is clear that the city, notwithstanding its obligation under the 2nd Amnd. Consent Order, has made every attempt to undermine its own Application,” the petition states.
County Commissioner John Manning, whose district includes parts of Cape Coral, Pine Island and Sanibel, said no scientific evidence has yet been provided that convinces him the ecosystem would benefit from not having the barrier.
Manning said too that he brought a set of projects to the city that were either ignored or not communicated.
“Councilmember (Pete) Brandt and I negotiated a set of projects in case the barrier did not go in and he did not bring those to the council,” Manning said.
Pete Brandt said Manning brought no new ideas to the table, and that the city was still actively working on some of the ideas discussed between he and Manning.
“He’s not patient enough to see what we’re going to do,” Brandt said of Manning.
City Engineer Oliver Clarke said that while the matter is now embroiled in legal challenges, there still work that needs to be done to protect the water quality of the estuary.
Clarke said the petition is wrong for stating that the city is not honoring its duties.
“The city has honored all of our obligations under the consent order and continues to honor them,” he said.
“They’re not making any statements in this challenge regarding errors of scientific fact, which is very interesting,” Clarke added. “A challenge is based on errors of fact and this is a scientific matter and science is what’s going to determine the effective things to do.”
Manning said his job was to make sure the Northwest Spreader canal contributes to, and does not degrade the health of Matlacha Pass, and that the pass does not look as healthy as it used to.
Manning added that the matter has nothing to do with bringing utilities to the Northwest Cape.
“This has to do with water quality and nothing to do with sewers in the Northwest,” Manning said.