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Still fighting to protect the island

By Staff | Jul 7, 2021

To the editor,

There were a lot of unhappy Pine Islanders at the Town Hall meeting at the Methodist Church on June 29, concerned with the proposed development order from Jefferson Lakes for 94 “townhouses/condos” and 17 buildings to be constructed nearby environmental, sensitive wetlands, preserve areas and Pine Island Creek.

When asked, how close this would be to the creek, she responded, she didn’t know. Someone from the audience said, “He looked it up and it was 50 feet.” How can this be? Someone else said, “They thought only a Publix was going to be built there.”

The door has been opened, now that Publix properties has started construction. They are now asking for variances for more signage and more buildings on the property. The majority of the islanders there were against such proposals.

Also, concerned with traffic in such a tight area onto Pine Island road and the added traffic during season when traffic is backed up from Matlacha to Pine Island Center, past the 4-way stop; and, of course, during hurricane season when we’re packed in here like sardines, scrambling to evacuate.

In the mid/late 1980s, concerned Pine Islanders went to work and spent many days/years on The Pine Island Comprehensive Land Use Plan, to protect and conserve our island from overdevelopment. At the time, we had Lee County Commissioners who were supportive of our efforts. What has happened? Our voices are no longer heard. The plan was gutted years ago and our tenacious “Pine Island watchdog,” Phil Buchanan, passed away. He always kept us informed and up to date with what was happening in the “development world.” He fought so hard to protect our island that we still see the benefits today. Thank you.

Commissioners, listen to the people of Pine Island! We do not want to be like other places — like Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, other Florida destinations, with their highrises, fast food restaurants and Walmarts. Our attraction is Coastal Rural and WE LIKE IT THAT WAY! Years ago, Walgreens wanted to put their store at the corner of the 4-way stop. Can you imagine that? We protested with signs and bumper stickers at that very spot and we told them, NO WAY! Put it off island at the next corner and they did! And just recently, we said NO to a Doppler Radar Tower in St. James City and the application was withdrawn.

In today’s world, sometimes I wonder if my voice still counts. I will not go down without a fight! A fight for what I believe in! Even if I’m told its a done deal.

I love Pine Island, it’s my home, a place where I’m connected to the people who care and feel the same, about preserving our island’s unique character and our way of life for future generations.

Rhonda Dooley

Bokeelia