Estero Community Plan was adopted in January 2002 it called for a
series of changes in the Lee County Land Development Code in order to
ensure that the goals of the plan would be achieved throughout Estero.
In June 2002 Land Development Code changes requiring the
following were approved by the Board of County Commissioners:
• Increased buffering requirements for all
commercial projects but especially
between commercial and residential projects so that residents would
be negatively impacted by noise, odors and other forms of pollution,
• Special provisions for automobile service stations
and convenience food
and beverage stores to reduce the intensity of their canopy
upgrade their appearance and limit their numbers by establishing a
minimum separation distance,
• Created the Corkscrew Main Street Overlay District
and established Design Standards and Property Development
Regulations that impact all developments located along Corkscrew
In October 2002 the Board of County Commissioners
approved another change in the Land Development Code creating General
Signage Guidelines applicable throughout the Estero community.
These legal requirements, along with the Community Plan,
have guided the Estero Community
Planning Panel (ECPP) and the
Estero Design Review Committee (EDRC) in their advisory review of
requested zoning and project development (DO) applications during the
last three years.
During this period both groups have sponsored community
meetings at which hundreds of developments and projects have been
presented and reviewed by thousands of community residents. This
experience has demonstrated the need for another series of Land
Development Code changes applicable only to Estero.
These changes have been developed by the ECPP in
conjunction with the County Community Development staff and have now
been reviewed and approved by the County’s Land Development Code
Advisory Committee and its Executive Regulatory Oversight Committee.
During October they will be reviewed by the County’s Local Planning
Agency and will then be presented to the Board of County Commissioner’s
for their approval.
Recently County staff decided to create a new chapter of
the Land Development Code, Chapter 33, exclusively for “Planning
Community Regulations” because several more planning communities have
established comprehensive community plans and associated Land
Development Code provisions and because these requirements have become
so extensive. As a result all of Estero’s unique Land Development Code
provisions will be found in one place, not scattered around the County’s
voluminous Land Development Code.
When it comes to managing development the “devil is in
the details”. As a result this consolidated Land Development Code
amendment contains eighty sections, in forty five pages of detailed
provisions affected every aspect of any commercial project that wants to
locate in the Estero Planning Community.
In addition to consolidating and reorganizing all
Estero’s existing provisions, the amendment makes the following major
• Creates extensive standards for the development of
“Big Boxes”, buildings with at least 50,000 square feet of retail
space for a single user or 100,000 square feet for more than one
• Creates new Overlay Districts for Sandy Lane and
US 41 applying most of the design standards that have been
applicable along Corkscrew Road these last three years along with
some new ones.
The Land Development Code organizes the thirty-three
sections of the Estero Design Guidelines into five categories: Basic
elements, Architectural, Landscaping, Transportation and Signs. The
following are some examples of how each of these categories is raising
the quality of development in Estero’s Overlay Districts that will soon
contain all of the community’s commercial corridors.
Among the “basic elements” of the Design
Guidelines are requirements that:
• “all utility lines must be located underground
except when located within a public street or road with-of-way”,
• “Places of public interest/open space are intended to provide for
areas of public interest within commercial developments and must be
provided where possible. These areas must be equipped with amenities
such as seating areas, structures that provide shade, drinking
fountains and other amenities”.
• “Lighting must be given a distinct architectural theme that
complements the building’s exterior. Light fixtures must complement
the overall building development…. Provide lighting throughout all
parking areas utilizing decorative light poles/fixtures.”
Some key Architectural Design Guidelines are:
• “The preferred architectural style in the Estero
Planning Community is Mediterranean, with Old Florida where
appropriate, and other styles of architecture that are deemed
compatible with these styles”.
• “Buildings of less than 5,000 square feet of gross floor area must
be designed with roofs having a minimum pitch of 30 degrees”.
• “…all proposed commercial, industrial, public and mixed use
buildings must blend with and complement existing architectural
features of adjacent structures constructed under these standards”.
• “Buildings must be designed to be visually appealing from all
• “Exterior facades of out-parcel buildings must be treated as
primary facades and must employ architectural, site, and landscaping
design elements that are common to the theme used on the main
development on site including colors and materials associated with
the main building”.
A few of the important Landscaping Design Guidelines
• “All landscape buffer designs should complement
adjacent project buffers to help aid in establishing a continuous
landscape theme within the Estero Planning Community”.
• “Developments must provide separation between pedestrian and
vehicular movement by using plantings as space defining elements”.
• “All required trees must be a minimum 45 gallon container, 12-14
foot planted height, 6 foot spread and 31/2 inch caliper, or field
grown equivalent, at the time of planting”. These are much larger
trees than is required elsewhere in Lee County.
The transportation sections focus primarily on
making Estero pedestrian and bicycle friendly. Some key provisions are:
• “Pedestrian walkways must be provided for each
public vehicular entrance to a project…”
• “Sidewalks or bikeways must be installed along all project
frontage roads, and whenever possible must be separated from the
edge of pavement by a minimum 4’ planting strip”.
• “Bicycle racks are required for all retail and office developments
within overlay districts’.
• “Developments must provide street furniture and other pedestrian
amenities in their design”.
The Signage Design Guidelines include the
following important provisions:
• Prohibit animated, emitting electronic changing
message, figure structure, poll, pylon and off-site directional
signs as well as the use of balloons, banners, pennants and other
• Limits the use of temporary signs
• Extensively regulates all signage in all commercial and industrial
areas so that all identification signs are monument signs that are
wider than they are tall; may be no more than 17 feet in height;
must use at least 25% of the sign for architectural design; must be
lighted attractively; must match the architectural style of the
building or development.
Originally published in the
September 2005 Estero Development Report