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Planning Committee holds second meeting

June 17, 2015
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Wednesday night, nearly 70 people assembled at Fishers of Men Lutheran Church for the second meeting of the Pine Island Planning Committee.

"We chose this night to have this meeting of the Pine Island Planning Committee because yesterday was the first meeting with the County Attorney," moderator Phil Buchanan said. "It was also the first time they handed out any details of what they plan on replacing the 810/910 rules with.

"The meeting yesterday made me really proud to be a Pine Islander," he continued. "The hundreds, maybe thousands, of emails by Pine Islanders defending our plan have had their desired effect. The County Attorney and his team - and I hope the commissioners - have become very sensitive as to just how special a place Pine Island really is."

Article Photos

Pine Island Planning Committee Co-Chair Phil Buchanan addresses nearly 70 Pine Islanders at second meeting.


There were three attendees from the Pine Island Planning Committee (by the County Attorney's invitation): Kathy Malone, Phil Buchanan and Mike Downing, who participated by telephone. Also present were Noel Andress, Michael Dreikorn, Bob Elder and Dan Honc from Pine Island. The County Attorney, Richard Wm. Wesch, plus another attorney from his office, Michael Jacob, and two contract attorney's from Tampa. There were also three land planners and an evacuation expert, Dan Trescott.

Wesch announced at the start of the meeting that they had decided against building a second bridge from Cape Coral to St. James City.

"I strongly supported the committee because another bridge would destroy the environment, would be impossible to permit, impossible to pay for, and would make us part of Cape Coral overnight. The county held their ground - bless their hearts," Buchanan said.

The County Attorney also decided against any possibility of widening the road in Matlacha.

"These, by the way, are the same findings we have come to for the last 30 years," Buchanan said.

The centerpiece of the proposal is a very vigorous TDR/TDP program. Transferable Development Rights (TDR) are a land use management tool. A TDR program allows landowners of designated sending areas to sever the right to develop land from the "bundle" of other rights associated with that property and then to sell those rights to others who may use the rights in certain designated receiving areas.

Under the proposal, one acre of coastal rural would multiply to five acres of density if transferred to the mainland. Landowners here could sell their development rights for serious money and still farm their lands.

"This is a very progressive idea that could work," Buchanan said.

The proposal suggests changing the standard maximum Coastal Rural density to 1 dwelling unit to 2.7 acres (the same as the existing Pine Island Plan if the landowner preserved 70 percent of the property).

Open space requirement is 50 percent, a critical element because that essentially replaces the previous preservation requirement. Density can be increased to 1 dwelling unit to 1 acre (called adjusted maximum density) if 70 percent is preserved.

The county also proposes to prepare a new hurricane evacuation plan. The new plan calls for an 18-hour hurricane evacuation time but Trescott says islanders can currently evacuate in 6.2 hours. Lee County EMS suggests it would take 10 to 10.5 hours to evacuate Pine Island.

The height restriction of 38 feet would remain the same under the new proposals and "Old Florida" commercial construction design standards, signage, buffers, setbacks, landscaping, etc., stays the same.

"The new proposal is about 125 to 150 pages with lots of draft mistakes and contradictory language," Buchanan said. "Tomorrow I plan to write them a long list of corrections and lots and lots of questions. When the errors and up-front questions get cleared up, the document will be put online both by the county and our own website ( Then we can all comment."

The next step, he said, county meetings on Pine Island in the fall, and during the coming winter, formal hearings with the county commissioners.

"I believe this is a big step in the right direction," Buchanan said. "No doubt, there will probably be many fights to come. The developers and big landowners have not even seen all this yet. It's going to be an interesting summer and even more interesting winter. Things may work out well, or they may not, but I feel better now than I have in a while. The County Attorney's Office has done a good job."

He then fielded questions from the audience.

Question: "Will the rest of us get to read a summary of the proposal?"

Answer: "Yes, this will be in the minutes of this meeting and tomorrow I will send out and email of my comments tonight."

Question: "What do you think Kings Ranch will think about this?"

Answer: "This proposal makes it easier for them to sell their development rights so they may kind of like it."

Question: "Is it time to start incorporating?"

Answer: "Our policy at the Pine Island Community Civic Association has been so long as the county is allowing us to have a sensible land plan we don't need to incorporate. We could certainly do that but I don't see a movement to do so."

Question: "It seems that the Pine Island Plan is going to be changed and what we are doing now is minimizing damage?"

Answer: "Except for those things I mentioned tonight, everything else in the Pine Island Plan stays the same."

The meeting concluded with a proposal from the Pine Island Flag Committee to establish a Pine Island flag. Marty Kendall, standing in for committee chairman Cesar Perez, suggested a flag creation contest to include adults and children. Many of the details will be worked out in the coming weeks and announced in the Pine Island Eagle and online at Facebook "Pine Island Flag Creation."

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30.

Overall those attending the meeting thought the county's proposal was satisfactory.

"I was very pleased to see the large attendance at the meeting, which indicates a desire on the part of Pine Islanders to learn and understand the facts of this dilemma," Marty Kendall said. "I was happy to find that the county was asking for no critical changes to the island's unique character and even offered a creative investment opportunity to those who insist on development, which may well placate all sides. However, we are only into the beginning of this important venture and believe we Islanders should be cautiously optimistic."

"The controversial 810/910 rule is targeted for deletion as state law does not allow for density caps based on road concurrency," Michael Dreikorn said. "That basically means that local government has a responsibility to maintain infrastructure to the needs of the given population. That does not mean that there are no density restrictions proposed. Presently, the county is proposing a density of 1 home per 2.7 acres with some caveats. They are also proposing an adoption of the state hurricane evacuation standard of 18 hours. Presently, it was stated that Pine Island is at evacuation capability of 6 hours. That leaves plenty of room for growth.

"The county was very clear in what their objectives were: 1) Achieve a significant reduction in density; 2) maintain the rural character of Pine Island; 3) ensure public safety; and 4) respect private property rights. Though there are no guarantees in life, the direction of the County does make a lot of sense and could provide a win-win for all of Lee County."

The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for July 9. Visit the Pine Island Planning Committee website for more information on the existing Pine Island Plan and proposed amendments:



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