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Captivans face many issues this season

By Staff | Oct 14, 2011

With many Captivans returning to the island there were several discussions during the Captiva Community Panel meeting Tuesday morning. It began with Kathy Rooker, senior administrator for Captiva Erosion Prevention District, informing the audience of an open seat for the local Coastal Advisory Council.

“This is a great opportunity to get involved,” said Rooker, who fills the at-large seat on the advisory council.

She then addressed the idea of an economic impact study for beaches countywide. These studies provide valuable data for government officials, especially the Tourism and Development Committee, to review in major funding decisions. Lee County had an economic impact study done in 2009 for baseball, noted Rooker.

“They are important for government funding and can be useful in other ways,” she said. “Some secondary uses (of the studies) include making claims should a natural disaster hit the island.”

Rooker encouraged everyone in the Wakefield Room at ‘Tween Waters to attend the next TDC meeting Oct. 14. If you are interested in the vacant advisory council seat or the TDC meeting, call the CEPD office at 472-2472.

During the Nov. 9 meeting of the CEPD, Commissioner John Manning and some of his colleagues will be in attendance to discuss cost sharing in the previous beach project and the upcoming project.

“If we can get other sources of funding (for beach renourishment projects), it would reduce the impact on residents who have already stepped up to the plate for the last project,” explained Rooker. “It is important to attend this meeting.”

CEPD Chairman Mike Mullins, who also sits on the panel’s board, told the audience Captiva pays $3 million in bed tax to the TDC annually. Yet, the county only paid $2 million on the 2006 project and has since requested $1.3 to $1.5 million back. The discrepancy stems from the Army Corp of Engineers leaving the project unfinished and returning for a remaining 100 cubic yards.

“They say (the Army Corp returning) doesn’t count,” Mullins explained about the county’s position on the refund. “Everyone agrees the project was done correctly except Lee County.”

To show your support for beach renourishment, the CEPD meeting will be at noon Nov. 9 in the Wakefield Room at ‘Tween Waters Inn.

In other business, the CCP discussed its next steps in the Land Development Code update process. Since the Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the building height amendment to the Lee Plan, the LDC had been updated with the new language.

“It’s nearly effective,” said Kathie Ebaugh about the new building height requirements. “By the end of November, it will be fully effective.”

The LDC will be under a final review by county staff before being reviewed by LDCAC and EROC. The final two steps will be a review by the LPA before being passed by the BOCC. Ebaugh would not give the panel a timeline on how long the process would take, except to say, “it’s a long process.”

In other business, representatives from LCEC presented a tree trimming update. The electric company uses 400 employees to keep the lights on; however, trees are usually to blame for power outages and service interruptions.

“We began trimming trees on Captiva Monday,” said Diana Gilman, senior supervisor over vegetation management with LCEC. “As we all know, trees and power lines don’t mix well.”

She discussed the company’s tree trimming program, which has spent more than $160,000 keeping trees away from power lines since it started in 2004. The minimum clearance guidelines state trees are to be trimmed 10 feet horizontally and 1 foot below the lowest cable.

Between January 2010 and October, there were 89 reported power outages with more than half on Captiva. When panel members Rene Miville and Paul McCarthy raised concern about cabbage palms along the first quarter-mile of Captiva passed the bridge, it brought about a discussion for alternatives to the power line and tree situation.

“Our main concern in safety,” said Gilman. “Trees can become conductors for electricity and we must find a way to live together.”

The next Captiva Community Panel meeting will be at 9 a.m. Nov. 8 in the Wakefield Room at ‘Tween Waters Inn.