Another open letter to Pine Islanders
August 18, 2009
To the Editor:
Michael Dreikorn, president of the Bokeelia Civic Association, would like you to believe, once again, that the Greater Pine Island Civic Association and Phil Buchanan are trying to dictate property rights to everyone. He goes so far as to suggest the GPICA will be telling you what color to paint your house! The simple truth of the matter is this: the 1989 Pine Island Plan virtually eliminated new development when the traffic count through western Matlacha reached a certain number. None of the existing 6,400 or so vacant, buildable lots were affected by that plan or, for that matter, by the current plan. It only meant that no new lots could be created. The county and the GPICA decided in 1999 to tweak the Pine Island Plan to allow for some limited development. That process took more than six years and well over a hundred thousand dollars in fees for newspaper advertising, planners and attorneys, resulting in the current plan. The traffic count number was triggered in 2006 or so but a number of new development applications were grandfathered in, despite the fact they were submitted after the number was reached.
One of the key features of the new plan was a zoning category created called “Coastal Rural.” According to Policy 1.4.7 of the Lee Plan in which Coastal Rural is explained, “Permitted land uses include agriculture, fill-dirt extraction, conservation uses, and residential uses...” While the 1989 plan would not have allowed new developments, the new plan allowed owners of Coastal Rural property up to 1/3 the pre-1989 Plan density if they “clustered” the housing units and left much of the given acreage of the development natural. The plan even allowed them to continue to farm the undeveloped portion of the parcel while allowing a slightly lesser number of housing units than if they left it natural. Wild claims were made that the new plan had been “created in secret,” without any input from property owners. Nonsense. The GPICA has available CDs with copies of hundreds of documents including required advertising regularly done in the Eagle and News-Press inviting participation in those meetings.
County staff recently proposed that commercial uses be allowed in the Coastal Rural category. TheGPICA objected to the extent of that proposal while large landowners pushed for it. Allowing anything other than very limited commercial uses in Coastal Rural would not only open the possibility of “quickie mart” type uses up and down Pine Island, but would lower the value of vacant commercial properties now owned by investors.
The Bokeelia Civic Association has a history of its officers supporting new development, additional bridges, a Walgreens drug store at the four-way stop and other radical changes to Pine Island. Mr. Dreikorn’s property at the east end of Cubles Drive was the site a couple of years ago of one of the largest cases of mangrove destruction in a 10-year period, according to newspaper reports. Mr. Dreikorn stated that the mangroves were destroyed without his permission and without his knowledge by a contractor, but he accepted responsibility for the act. He faces considerable costs for restitution required. I, for one, would not like to put the leadership in matters of the future of Greater Pine Island into the hands of someone who seems to have had such extraordinary bad luck with the environment here already.
The GPICA has been the only organization dedicated to preserving the rural character of Greater Pine Island. Do not be tricked into thinking that some new entity run by developer friendly individuals needs to speak for you. On the other hand, if you don’t want Pine Island overrun by little strip malls and new gated mini-mansion communities, you should send your name and address and a check for $10 per person for dues for the next full year to the Greater Pine Island Civic Association, PO Box 3044, Pineland, FL 33945. The assault by development will never end, and the GPICA needs your support.
Former board member of the GPICA