SC Staff Report
The Eden Oak property on Shell Point Boulevard was nominated for a second time to Lee County’s Conservation 20/20 land acquisition program earlier this year and a meeting to recommend its purchase to the Lee County Board of Commissioners has been tentatively scheduled for July.
Eden Oak consists of 36 acres of mangrove wetlands at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River near the Sanibel Causeway and its owner has requested a change in zoning to build 55 homesites with docks, as well as excavating a new canal and creating a boat basin with additional docks.
Last week the Lee County Hearing Examiner granted the owner’s request for an extension on final arguments for the rezoning to Dec. 11. In 2018, Lee County staff issued a report that did not recommend approval of rezoning the 36 acres from agricultural to residential.
Opponents of the rezoning and development have some of the same concerns Lee County did in its report, including negative impacts to the environment by the removal of critical mangrove habitat which also serves as natural filtration for the Caloosahatchee.
The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation has said the plan will put more people in the coastal high hazard area, create new sources of pollution from runoff and put boat traffic in sensitive habitat used by a number of threatened and endangered species. The development would also add vehicle traffic to the evacuation access on Shell Point Boulevard.
The Conservation Lands Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee recommends purchases through the 20/20 land conservation program to the BOCC, which gives final approval. However, the county and property owner must first agree on a purchase price.
The nomination process was moving forward quickly until the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
SCCF has put out a call for action to support the purchase of the property for conservation. Any member of the public can email or call the county commissioners – click here for contact information.