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Lack of adherence to the Lee Plan is a water crisis in making

By Staff | Jul 19, 2017

To the editor:

Recently, Lee County’s Local Planning Agency passed the Verdana, a 1,460 unit development in the midst of our Density Reduction Groundwater Resource Area, on to county commissioners as a next step to approve the removal of these 1,460 acres from our DRGR. They even “fast-tracked” the development, one could suppose, so it could be well underway when our seasonal residents return – and perhaps object.

The League of Women Voters of Lee County, Florida, represent members who believe this chronic pattern of ignoring the Lee Plan regarding development in environmentally critical areas is a violation of our citizens’ rights to help determine the complexion and direction of development within their communities. Florida’s 1985 legislature established a “growth management” law allowing citizen participation in the character of their respective communities. Because of the law, Lee County developed a “Lee Plan” which, in the case of the DRGR areas, designated no more than one residence per 10 acres of uplands and one residence per 20 acres of wetlands. (Following the Lee Plan, this Verdana could have built no more than 300 homes on its 1,460 acres.) Those in charge of such decisions have sidestepped the intent of the Lee Plan by passing “overlays.”. We believe they should remain faithful to the original intent of the 1985 legislation.

Consider: June 6, 2017, the Lee County Commission “fast tracked” Pepperland Ranch, 640 acres in our DRGR, for 700 residential units. June 27, Verdana is given a “fast track” to put 1,460 residential units in our DRGR. This area is next door to “The Place at Corkscrew,” a 1,200 unit residential development in our DRGR, recently approved.

Additional assaults on our DRGR include (but are not limited to): Center Place (886 acres), Corkscrew Shores (721 acres), Wildblue (2,960 acres), Corkscrew Farms (1,361 acres), Corkscrew Crossing (396 acres), and Old Corkscrew Plantation (4,205 acres). These acres are being lost forever as a water resource to the citizens of Lee County.

Interestingly, these developers are calling their developments an “Environmental Enhancement and Preservation Community.” This ploy is obviously working because they’re removing thousands of acres from our DRGR. Calling this annihilation of our water resource areas an “Environmental Enhancement and Preservation Community” is like the fox in the hen-house calling himself a “protection enforcer and hen preserver.”

We believe our DRGR is being turned over for development which will result in a future water crisis for those citizens who are being denied participation in county development decisions by present county representatives.

League of Women Voters of Lee County, Florida

Clara Anne Graham, President

Patty Duncan, Environmental Chair

Laura Miller, Former Environmental Chair