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Cape site up for 20/20 consideration

By Staff | Feb 13, 2020

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners will decide next week whether to begin the acquisition process for land abutting Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve in Cape Coral.

The decision as to whether to pursue the site for possible inclusion into the county’s Conservation 20/20 program is on the board’s Tuesday’s meeting agenda.

The 194-acre property is located north of the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve along the Caloosahatchee River. The owners, Ripple Lake LLC, had planned to build single-family homes in the area, as that is what it is currently zoned for.

It also represents one of the few qualifying sites in Cape Coral.

In December, a scheduled vote was postponed for lack of committee quorum.

On Jan. 9, though, in front of the five of the eight Cape Coral City Council members attending, the Conservation Land Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee (CLASAC) voted in favor of the site’s inclusion on a recommended purchase list.

This was aided by an adjustment in the overall score of the property (from a 47 to 55, still the lowest of the three parcels on the docket) and a pledge by the city to fix any damage that was done to the site. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection cited the city for destroying the mangroves in the area.

Yolanda Olson, a local Realtor, said one of the things that could make the vote challenging is the way the city plans to fix the problems there.

“In general, the thinking is that the plan is not comprehensive enough. Plants should be planted closer together, further down the slope, and that is one of the big issues,” Olson said. “The city has been closed-mouthed about what’s going on. It all depends on whether the restoration plan and who’s paying for it are acceptable to the parties involved.”

Calls to the city and county commissioners were not immediately returned.

Passage of the measure would give county staff the green light to begin the acquisition process. Once a price is agreed upon, the proposal goes back to CLASAC, and then again to the BOCC for final consideration.

The commission meets at the Old Courthouse at 2120 Main St. in Fort Myers. Meetings begin at 9:30 a.m.