Purchase 3.2 Acres
on Sanibel for Conservation 20/20
their meeting on Tuesday morning, Lee County Commissioners unanimously agreed
to spend $3 million on 3.2 acres of land adjacent to the J.N. Ding Darling
National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel. The first such purchase using the
Conservation 20/20 program since controversy over the program erupted last
fall, the decision followed a lengthy discussion as to why such a small parcel
should be part of a program which has traditionally been used to purchase
large, undeveloped properties.
public comment, a number of Sanibel residents spoke in favor of the purchase,
saying the parcel will help with the island's water issues and that "clean
water equals jobs”.
Board then approved the entire Consent Agenda - which included a 60-day
extension for work on the New Pass Bridge - before beginning the discussion
about the 20/20 purchase.
Tammy Hall said she has had a lot of calls and asked county staff to put on
record what could happen to the site if the county chooses not to buy it. The
property is located at 1808 Woodring Road and fronts on San Carlos Bay. A 90'
foot wooden dock is on the property, as does a stilt home. The United States
Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is purchasing an additional 3.37 acres next
to it, with both pieces considered to be part of the same 6.57 acre parcel.
Fish & Wildlife will manage the property as both pieces will be
incorporated into the Preserve.
Lands' Karen McGuire assured the commissioners that the FWS will manage the
property in accordance with 20/20 principles, and that the county is paying
less than what was recommended by two appraisals.
Vice-Chair Larry Kiker questioned using the 20/20 program to purchase this
property as it has already been developed.
those development rights transferable to elsewhere on Sanibel?" he asked,
replied staff is looking into that and that the county would not change the
land use until such a determination was made.
had more questions, specifically since the property only scored 25 out
of 60 points in an evaluation of its environmental value that was performed by
the commission’s Conservation Land Acquisition and Stewardship Committee.
not saying this property isn't important for us to acquire,” he said. "I'm just
not sure this is the right program for it. Are there other programs this
property may qualify for?”
replied that, even though the property scored low on the evaluation, the fact
that it is located next to Ding Darling and that it will be maintained by the
FWS led to its approval.
asked if there was anyone who looks at how much is lost by this property - or
any other property - coming off the county's tax rolls, and McGuire said no.
Frank Mann had an issue with what will happen with the building on the
property, asking for assurance that no commitment has been made that that
building would be available for use.
Board then approved the purchase, with the caveat that the building be torn
commissioners then approved an InterLocal Agreement with the City of Sanibel to
jointly fund a public education campaign to promote responsible use of
fertilizer and - despite Mann's vehement objections - to spend $192,473 on a
detailed study of the North Spreader Waterway that would aid in establishing
ecological goals for Matlacha Pass and determining the ultimate fate of the
Ceitus Boat Lift and Barrier in northwestern Cape Coral.
brown water is caused by tannins, period, and I've yet to see specific damage
tied to anything, even though we've had studies on top of studies," Mann
said. "I am studied out. We have spent seven years on this issue and we
are no closer to a resolution and I am not spending another dime on it."
pointed out that the study goes beyond the boat lift.
we determine that we want to pull a permit to put the lift back in, we'd have
to use this data to do so," she said. "I realize that nothing stays
the same, that oyster beds and snook populations move, but this is better than
getting into a lawsuit and means we are moving towards our goal of a healthy
Pine Island Sound and that we are getting there scientifically."
Cecil Pendergrass said he's looking for this to be the last study concerning
this issue, and the motion passed 3-2 (Kiker and Mann dissenting).
the end of the meeting, the commissioners unanimously agreed to increase the
franchise fee for Florida Power & Light customers in areas of
unincorporated Lee County to not more than 4.5%, and agreed to set a public
hearing for the fate of LeeTran Bus Routes 60 and 160 for the budget hearing on
Wednesday, September 4th at 5pm that will be held in commission
chambers at the Old Lee County Courthouse. This is a public hearing on all possible
budget reductions, and public comments will be heard.
next regular meeting of the Board of Lee County Commissioners will be held on
Tuesday, September 3rd at 9:30am at the Old Lee County Courthouse.
For an agenda, visit www.leegov.com.
Keri Hendry Weeg