EDITOR’S NOTE: The following was provided by The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, one of the organizations involved in the fight to protect Captiva Island from Lee County Land Development Code amendments allowing an increase in hotel room density at South Seas Island Resort, although the county has maintained the changes were for resiliency purposes.
Florida’s Bureau of Community Planning and Growth, in its written comments on the proposed Lee Plan amendments applicable to Captiva, confirms the Captiva and Sanibel community’s claim that the amendments were not primarily about resiliency – but about increasing hotel room density.
The Bureau stated, “The amendment appears to fly a ‘false flag’ of ‘resilience’ as a primary purpose. When, in reality, the amendment is clearly at least in part for the purpose of an increase in hotel room density.”
Immediately after the amendments were introduced in early June, the Captiva and Sanibel communities quickly joined together to oppose the amendments that increased density and building heights on Captiva and South Seas, and have maintained that they were not for resiliency purposes as the County had claimed.
“We’re pleased with the State’s response to the Lee County amendments. It shows they understand the difference between resiliency and increases in hotel room density, and their comments confirm what our community has been saying to the County since the amendments were first introduced,” said Lisa Riordan, Chair of the Captiva Civic Association Land Use Committee and a member of the “Protect Captiva” coalition.
The “Protect Captiva” coalition was created shortly after the amendments were introduced and has now hired legal counsel to represent the community.
“We, on Captiva, and our neighbors on Sanibel, want to protect the fragile barrier island from increased density and increased building heights. We just went through the devastation of Hurricane Ian and our residents and businesses want to rebuild safely and create a more resilient community. But Lee County’s amendments do not do that,” said Riordan.
The comments made by the State and transmitted to the County were made as part of the ongoing state-required process undertaken when amending a county’s comprehensive plan. Lee County now has six months to take final action which can include adopting the amendments, making modifications, or abandoning the proposed amendments altogether.
“Hopefully, the four County Commissioners who voted for the amendments will acknowledge the State’s comments and come to understand our deep concerns,” she said. “The ‘Protect Captiva’ coalition of community organizations and residents will continue to be fully engaged in the process.”