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Matlacha Civic Association holds first meeting of season

November 29, 2017
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Matlacha Civic Association held its first meeting of the season Wednesday Nov. 15. Matlacha resident Mike Hannon offered an update on the annexation lawsuit and long-time Pine island resident Noel Andress presented a PowerPoint presentation on the proposed incorporation of Matlacha/Pine island.

Julie Oberlin, MCA vice president and special treasurer of the No Annexation fund, presented a report on available funds. Total deposits amount to $55,502.10. After expenses, including bank fees, money spent on T-shirts, legal expenses and commissions to artists, the balance is $28.487.14. Total expenditures amount to $27,014.96.

Hannon updated the status of the annexation lawsuit against Cape Coral by the Matlacha Civic Association.

On Dec. 12, 2016, the Cape Coral City Council, despite protests by more than 100 Pine Island and Matlacha residents, voted 4-3 to approve the annexation of the properties west of Miceli's Restaurant along Pine Island Road.

"If you recall last year, the annexation fund was established by the board (MCA) and it wasn't simply for annexation, it's an environmental and litigation fund...," Hannon said.

Hannon stated the fund had made contributions to attorney Ralph Brooks who has been doing legal work regarding the Ceitus Boat Lift and the Chiquita Boat Lift barrier and others.

"The annexation case is done, the pleadings are completed, the case is ready to be decided by Judge Kyle," Hannon said. "That could be decided any day now or when Judge Kyle deems it's appropriate for him to decide that case. There's really nothing the parties can do at this time to try to move that along. Judge Kyle's last order required Cape Coral to answer our petition indicated that no hearings would be held unless he scheduled a hearing. My experience is that that means generally that the judge is going to decide the case based upon the papers that were submitted by our lawyers and Cape Coral lawyers."

The second part of the lawsuit regarding Cape Coral's purchase of land for speculation. Hannon considers those purchases unlawful by both the constitution of the State of Florida and local rules and regulations. That part of the lawsuit was dismissed by the judge without prejudice allowing MCA to refile the lawsuit.

Andress, the chairman of the Lee County Planning Commission, had been involved with Phil Buchanan and the revisions to the Pine Island Plan made last year.

"I've been a member of the Lee County Planning Commission for 17 years and we've seen major changes with the County Commissioners over the years," Andress said. "We need to take control of our land use as a defense against further annexations by Cape Coral and control our own destiny."

Andress is a strong believer that incorporating Pine Island / Matlacha is the only way island residents can defend the island against further annexations by Cape Coral and manage the quality of development.

Roger Wood and the Greater Pine Island Civic Association have proposed a "Government Lite" where there would be a council-manager form of government with five council members one from each section of Pine Island and Matlacha.

One issue raised at the meeting is Matlacha's small population of 400+ must include Pine Island Center to reach a representative number equal to the other four districts and several residents of Matlacha raised their concerns whether they wanted to be included in the new town of "Village of Matlacha-Pine Island" at all.

MCA passed a resolution authorizing president Birdi Smock to send a letter to Florida Reps. Rodriguez and Eagle stating, "As a prerequisite to the state Legislature accepting any application for incorporation that includes Matlacha, and prior to any formal referendum, we insist that the Board of Elections conduct a monitored vote requiring a majority of Matlacha registered voters. This formal vote shall be conducted only after the results of the Annexation lawsuit are completed and communicated to all."



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