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City-county mediation ‘went well,’ officials say

By Staff | Mar 9, 2013

According to county and city officials, a mediation session concerning the Ceitus barrier went well this week.

Cape Coral Mayor John Sullivan said the March 6 meeting was productive.

“I thought we had very similar interests,” he said. “We are going to be able to work together as a team to help create a better environment.”

Lee County Commissioner John Manning said the mediation went well as well. He said they will continue to talk abut the issue, as well as gather additional scientific information.

A joint presentation will be made to the Cape Coral City Council and Lee County commissioners in late November or early December, Manning said.

It’s about trying to solve the difference of opinion and see what the two parties can do.

The city removed the Cape North Spreader Barrier in 2008 with permission from the state after multiple breaches compromised the structure.

The barrier had been installed to protect Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve from the single point discharge of the 7-mile long North Spreader Storm Water Canal.

A group of “stakeholders” was then formed to look at options to best protect water quality.

The group met for two years with most of the environmental members and the county recommending that the structure be replaced. The city voted for a water quality plan instead.

The state then turned down a permit request to replace the barrier and the county threatened to sue.

Mediation is an attempt to resolve the issue without going to court.

Sullivan said the city of Cape Coral and Lee County are going to work together as far as the scientific studies are concerned.

“We are going to look at trying to bring the FDEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) into the picture,” he said.

Their next step is to collect data, which Sullivan said is ongoing right now.

“The county has already started doing it,” he said, adding that it is just a matter of getting the city and county scientists to work together.

According to Manning the Chapter 164 Government Resolution Dispute Process has been set aside for right now.

“We have developed a working relationship with both the staff and consultants,” he said. “They are going to work together to continue to see the challenges with the spreader.”

Sullivan said with Chapter 164 being dropped, he thinks FDEP will get involved in the process.

“I think that is an absolute necessity,” he said.