located on the south side of
midway between Sandy
and River Ranch
Examiner’s review of the Monte Cristo zoning application. Monte
Cristo is a 724 unit housing development on 397 acres on the south
side of Corkscrew between Wildcat Run and Bella Terra
Hearing Room, 1500
Monroe Street in downtown Ft.Myers
Examiner’s review of the Coconut Plantation timeshares rezoning
application. In order to provide a larger buffer for an eagle’s nest
the rezoning would reduce the number of buildings and increase their
height from 45 to 75 feet. There is no increase in the number of
Hearing Room, 1500
Monroe Street in downtown Ft.Myers
During the first six months of 2007 an estimated 34,850 persons visited
this site to learn about Estero. During the same period last year we had
only a little more than half as many visitors, about 19,500, an increase of
The ECCL has recently
added a new section to the esterofl.org web site providing information on
health care services available in Estero, including a comparative list of
urgent care facilities, links to background information on Estero
physicians, and a checklist for part-time or new residents on what they need
to prepare for health care services in Estero. You can find this information
The community groups sponsoring the site are:
Estero Community Planning Panel (ECPP)
Estero Civic Association (ECA)
Estero Design Review Committee (EDRC)
Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL)
Greater Estero Cultural Arts Council (Arts Estero)
DR/GR - Density Reduction Groundwater Resource Area
Lee County, while growing rapidly, in 1989 set aside about 150 square
miles (over 90,000 acres) in the southeastern area of the county for low
density and groundwater resource protection. About half of Estero, its
eastern end, is located within the
DR/GR. For a map of the DR/GR area see
The Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL) in 2005 committed itself to
seeking County approval of a research program that would provide the County
with the information that it needs to properly plan the area and protect the
natural resources within it.
Development pressures on the DR/GR have grown rapidly during the last decade
and they continue to mount. Some pending threats to the DRGR are:
An attempt to construct an interchange at Coconut Road and I-75 in
order to open up the land to the east for development,
A plan to build a four-mile canal along the east side of I-75 in
order to drain all or a major part of 4,000 acres of mostly high quality
Five pending applications for new dirt and aggregate mines along
Corkscrew Road east of I-75, and
A County comprehensive plans change application that would authorize
a 2,800 acre mixed use development south of the intersection of Daniels
Road and County Road 82, the northern boundary of the DRGR.
The following sections detail some of the recent activities associated
with each of these threats.
On June 15th several ECCL members testified before the Lee Metropolitan
Planning Organization (MPO) Board regarding the I-75 Coconut Road
interchange. The MPO decided to go ahead with the Interchange
Justification Report (IJR) which is basically a traffic study, asking “Do we
need another interchange on the Interstate and if so, where should it be?”
but with the caveat to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between
the MPO and FDOT to address any issues and parameters that might not be
included within the scope. For more information on the Interchange
Justification Report requirements see
FDOT had contracted for the IJR without consulting the MPO about the scope
of work for the study. The MPO decided that they should be the applicant for
the IJR and determine the parameters for the study. The meeting seemed
to result in the MPO changing from an organization that simply approved
transportation plans to an organization that would also take the
responsibility to see that the plans are implemented properly.
Since the meeting FDOT has transmitted the “scope of work” that they had
negotiated with their consultant to the MPO staff, which has in turn,
transmitted it to the MPO Board and its advisory committees seeking comments
and suggestions that could be used to revise the scope or serve as the basis
for the MOU. The MPO staff and FDOT hope to finalize the MOU by the end of
August. Finally, the FDOT staff and their consultant will present the scope
of work to the full MPO at their August 17th meeting.
Agripartner’s Ltd. Partnership and Edison Farms, owners of 4,000 acres
just east of I-75 in Estero, are seeking the approval of the South Florida
Water Management District (SFWMD) to construct a four mile long, 60 foot
wide, five foot deep canal on their land along the east side of I-75 south
Stoneybrook community. On December 14, 2006, the Governing Board of
SFWMD approved the Agripartner’s Ditch/Canal without any discussion.
District rules permit affected entities to file a Petition for
Administrative Hearing within 21 days of any action by the SFWMD Governing
Board. During this period both Lee County and The Conservancy of Southwest
Florida filed the necessary petitions.
The SFWMD has tentatively scheduled the hearing on the Conservancy
Petition for September.
The original estimate of the cost of this appeal to the Conservancy was
about $50,000 but it has increased in order to employ the latest computer
modeling and experts, thus increasing the total by $18 to 20 thousand.
As a result it continues to be important for Estero communities and
Become members of the Conservancy along with the ECCL, many of The
Brooks communities and many residents from throughout the community.
Legal standing for the Conservancy’s Petition is enhanced by having a
large number on Conservancy members in the vicinity of the project, and
Underwrite some of these costs by making a donation to the
Conservancy with "Agripartners Litigation" marked in the memo line or in
the letter included with your check.
The Conservancy Petition makes the following key points:
The property on which the drainage ditch is to be
constructed is nearly 90% wetlands, most of it high quality wetlands
While the staff report focuses on the 16 acres of wetlands
that would be excavated, an analysis of the project by the Southwest
Florida Regional Planning Council estimates the overall wetland
impacts to be 1,283 acres due to the long term drainage of adjacent
lands by the ditch. Such wetland impacts would destroy the habitat
of wading birds, especially the wood stork, and reduce the
groundwater recharge capabilities of the area.
The Ditch will adversely impact the quality of the water
entering the Estero River, Halfway Creek and eventually Estero Bay
by interfering with the natural cleansing functions of slow moving
water in wetlands. Both the Estero River and Estero Bay are
designated as Outstanding Florida Waters and are therefore deserving
of special consideration in this regard.
On July 18th the Lee County Hearing Examiner’s review of the Estero Group
Mining application began with the applicant presenting their case. Due to
the widespread opposition to the development the Hearing continued for five
days and was scheduled by the Hearing Examiner for six more days starting on
The ECCL and many west Estero communities testified in opposition to the
permit for the following reasons:
The traffic safety problems, dust and pollution caused by another
400 trucks traveling through our community each day;
The impact more mines in our water supply area will have on our
future water supply;
The impact more mines will have on the adjacent wetlands and thereby
upon the water quality in our rivers and streams and in Estero Bay;
The impact more mines will have on flooding of the Estero River,
Halfway and Spring Creeks due to the deterioration of the areas wetlands
and flowways that transport rainwater from the interior to the coast;
The impact more mines will have on the critical wildlife habitat
located in the area.
The Hearing extension is needed so that County staff can complete their
analysis of the case and more experts can be called by the applicant and
lawyers for other mines to respond to the presentation by
Dr. Sydney T.
Bacchus, PhD, a
Hydroecologist with Applied Environmental Services, LLC, who provided
testimony on behalf of Corkscrew Road residents on July 19th.
presentation described her study of the ecological impacts to onsite and
offsite wetland systems caused by non-mechanical dewatering of the surficial
and Florida aquifers which occurs as a result of mining excavations.
Attorneys for the applicant, Estero Group Ltd., as well as an attorney
representing two other Corkscrew Road landowners who have applied for
permits to mine in the area, asked the Hearing Examiner for more time to
prepare their cross examination of Dr. Bacchus.
Dr. Bacchus' research on the ecological impacts of mining on lands in Lee
County’s DR/GR has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the
Geological Society of America and the National Wetlands Newsletter.
Over the years the east Corkscrew residents have raised and spent about
$140,000 resisting the industrialization of Corkscrew Road. Since all Estero
residents will benefit from their efforts, it is only fair that they be
assisted in this financial burden by all who benefit. If you care to help
please send a check to:
Thomas Hart Trust Fund
P.O. Box 2449
Ft. Myers, FL 33902
Please mark checks on the bottom left line “Estero Group IPD”
The Estero Group is seeking to develop 318 acres along Corkscrew Road as
a dirt mine. If approved, this project will add at least 400 truck trips per
day to Estero and Lee County roads. If this project is approved other mines
and more dump trucks will follow. At present there are two mines operating
along Corkscrew Road and a total of five Corkscrew Road mine permit
applications are now on file with the County.
Lee County zoning staff has recommended approval of this application. For
further information on mining in eastern Estero and a map of all the
existing and proposed mines see the Corkscrew Road Rural Community website
On May 21st the developers of The Fountains, a proposed 2,769 acre mixed
use development generally located at the intersection of Daniels Parkway and
State Route 82, just south of Lehigh Acres and in the northern-most section
of the Density Reduction Groundwater Resource (DR/GR) area, appeared before
the Lee County Local Planning Agency (LPA) to seek their approval for the
development. County staff recommended that the Board of County Commissioners
not transmit the change to the State for approval for 16 reasons, the first
of which is its location in the DRGR.
After a brief discussion about the forthcoming McLane DR/GR study
consolidation report, the parties agreed to postpone the Hearing until the
LPA’s August meeting. The LPA did hear testimony from groups that attended
the meeting to comment on The Fountains. The ECCL, The Conservancy and the
Regional Growth Management Coalition (RGMC) all spoke in opposition to the
development until the County’s 20 year old plans for the DRGR are updated.
The Conservancy’s written testimony relies strongly upon the following Lee
Comprehensive Plan provisions:
POLICY 1.4.5: The Density Reduction/Groundwater Resource (DR/GR) areas
include upland areas that provide substantial recharge to aquifers most
suitable for future wellfield development. These areas also are the most
favorable locations for physical withdrawal of water from those aquifers.
Only minimal public facilities exist or are programmed. Land uses in these
areas must be compatible with maintaining surface and groundwater levels at
their historic levels. Permitted land uses include agriculture, natural
resource extraction and related facilities, conservation uses,
publicly-owned gun range facilities, private recreation facilities, and
residential uses at a maximum density of one dwelling unit per ten acres (1
Lee County currently operates three major wellfields within the DRGR and
protection of the DR/GR’s water resources is as relevant today as it was in
1989 when the DR/GR was created.
POLICY 2.4.3: Future Land Use Map Amendments to the existing DR/GR areas
south of SR 82 east of I-75, excluding areas designated by the Port
Authority as needed for airport expansion, which increase the current
allowable density or intensity of land use will be discouraged by the
county. It is Lee County’s policy not to approve further urban designations
there for the same reasons that supported its 1990 decision to establish
this category. …
Lee County staff and all the opponents believe that the plans for The
Fountains is in direct conflict with this Policy.
On June 11th McLane Environmental presented their report on all prior
DRGR studies to the BOCC. Some of the most important of the twenty principal
conclusions of the report are:
“1. Reduced residential density in the DR/GR area allows Lee County to meet
State requirements and manage future growth.
This factor is as important today as it was when this land use category was
2. Groundwater in DR/GR lands is an important source of potable water.
Lee County currently relies on groundwater from existing well fields for a
portion of its water supply from both public utilities and private wells.
5. DR/GR aquifers are a potential source of new water supply for Lee County.
Future water use in Lee County is projected to increase, and the DR/GR
areas that have the potential for new water supply development.
8. Existing wetlands are important ecological features of the DR/GR lands.
Several studies identify wetlands as important ecological features of the
because they provide a host of functions including: filtration and
rainfall runoff, groundwater recharge of groundwater aquifers, stabilization
sediment carried during storm flows and other surface water flows, hydraulic
on floodwaters, nutrient cycling, and habitats for a wide variety of plant
10. Many State or federally listed or endangered species have been observed
have suitable habitat areas mapped within DR/GR lands.
DR/GR lands are home to a great number of State or federally listed or
11. DR/GR lands host a rich diversity of plant and animal species.
The DR/GR lands are important not only for the individual species that have
observed there, but for the overall diversity of species that the DR/GR
13. Surface water bodies within DR/GR lands are important hydrologic and
While the DR/GR lands were originally designated for groundwater protection,
studies reveal that surface waters are also important because they represent
hydrologic features with great significance for the ecological systems of
15. DR/GR surface water systems are important for removing storm waters and
reducing flood impacts.
DR/GR surface waters including channels, sloughs, and flow ways are
pathways that remove storm waters from DR/GR watersheds, thereby reducing
impacts associated with flooding.
One of the most important overall attributes of the DR/GR lands is the
between the resources and systems that have been discussed above, and the
which these connections operate.
18. DR/GR lands contain extensive areas of interconnected wetlands.
The DR/GR contains large areas of wetlands. … the DR/GR does contain
acreage of many different types of wetlands (e.g. wet prairie, cypress dome,
pine flatwoods, mixed hardwood swamp), …
19. DR/GR lands provide important connections to nearby and farther-reaching
In a similar fashion, because the concept of a mosaic of interrelated
habitats is also
important on a scale that includes external connections between the DR/GR
surrounding ecosystems, the DR/GR lands provide an important “link” in the
of conservation areas throughout South Florida.”
McLane summarized the findings of the Report as follows: “This correlation
between the County’s stated environmental features of interest and the
corresponding information provided in the documents indicates the following:
• There is a strong awareness on the part of the Lee County staff charged
managing the DR/GR area that these lands possess a large number of important
resources, features, and issues.
• There is confirmation from the studies reviewed that numerous
consider these DR/GR-related features to be important, and that the features
species, resources, recharge areas, etc.) have been identified as being
present in the
DR/GR area in southeastern Lee County.
• The studies, when viewed as a whole, reveal that the resources and
systems within the DR/GR area are interrelated in complex ways.
• The functioning of the DR/GR environmental system (both in terms of
resources and interrelated systems) can be adversely impacted by certain
• There is the potential for a balance between use of the land and
protection of the
ecological and groundwater resources, with the nature of that balance
careful consideration of the DR/GR information and scientific data contained
studies reviewed as part of this project and other similar studies.
• There is the potential for restoration of impacted portions of DR/GR
On July 25th County staff and the Smart Growth Committee held a
Stakeholders meeting at the Estero Community Park attended by about 100
people. Most of the meeting was devoted to testimony by representatives of
the development and mining industries, the Florida Department of
Transportation, environmental and civic groups and residents of the DRGR.
County staff will report to the BOCC on the Stakeholders Meeting and make
recommendations for how to proceed with the DRGR at the Board’s August 9th
Management and Planning Workshop.
The ECCL and eleven civic and environmental groups presented the following
joint statement for consideration by County staff and the BOCC:
The undersigned organizations maintain our urgent concern over the
continuing loss of natural resources within the Density
Reduction/Groundwater Resource area (DR/GR) in advance of a comprehensive
In August 2006, our groups requested that Lee County initiate a
comprehensive study of the DR/GR. We appreciate the direction that was
given at that time to undertake a compilation of the already existing data
on the DR/GR and to identify gaps that should be studied further. r>
Once completed, we envisioned the data assessment would provide a foundation
for a comprehensive study of potential policies for the DR/GR, resulting in
identification of appropriate lands for natural resource protection,
residential, agricultural and mining uses.
As development pressure continues to build within the DR/GR, it is critical
to have proper information at hand in order for the County to adopt
appropriate policies and to use appropriate planning tools when considering
The McLane Study Assessment (Study) has provided an objective overview of
the environmental resources currently located within the DR/GR. It has
reinforced the fact that this area is a cohesive unit and is important in
its entirety for water recharge, habitat connectivity, flow ways,
restoration and connections to downstream resources. We believe the Study
supports our position that when land use decisions are made within the
DR/GR, due to resource connectivity, protection of area’s natural resources
cannot occur without a sound plan in place.
We commend Lee County for commissioning this Study to compile and analyze
previously available information. Now we urge Lee County to use this
Study as a catalyst to fill in the gaps in data and to begin
improving our comprehensive planning strategies for rural lands.
The McLane study identifies the following DR/GR information gaps:
· Potential saltwater
intrusion impacts on wells located in the area
· The absence of a concise
hydrologic water budget for the DR/GR lands
· Potential groundwater
quality impacts associated with certain land uses
· Potential hydrologic and
ecological impacts associated with mining
· Hydrologic, water quality
and ecological impacts associated with agricultural use of the lands.
Additional research should be undertaken to fill in these identified data
gaps. Concurrently, Lee County should initiate a planning effort to begin
formulating policies that could improve the protection of the essential
DR/GR resources. Specific suggestions for both efforts are attached.
Unfortunately, the process of data analysis and planning proceeds slowly
while the rate of permit and rezone applications within the DR/GR is
accelerating. In 2002, a total of 5,500 acres of land had been
approved for mining in Lee County. In the last 5 years that acreage has
nearly doubled: 5,000 additional acres have been permitted for mines. Today,
applications to approve mining activities on more than 3,000 additional
acres are being reviewed by the County. Other DR/GR landowners have declared
their intent to mine more than 13,000 additional acres.
In addition, at least one Comprehensive Plan Amendment, encompassing
hundreds of acres and requesting substantial gifts of increased density, is
being reviewed within DR/GR lands. The County is contesting the South
Florida Water Management District’s approval of a four mile ditch through a
high quality wetland section of the DR/GR. Federal funding has be provided
for a study of a new I-75 interchange with great potential for opening up a
large section of the DRGR for more intensive development.
The initial purpose of designating the DR/GR was to keep density lower
within the more rural areas of Lee County while protecting future drinking
water supplies. However, the Study has confirmed what scientists have
known for years, which is that the DR/GR is also important because of the
ecological services it provides. Such services include habitat value,
hydrologic features and their connectivity to areas both within and outside
the DR/GR and the importance of maintaining the integrity of the DR/GR in
order to preserve an interconnected mosaic of habitats.
The need to protect at a landscape scale and realize the beneficial
ecological services of the DR/GR cannot occur if applications continue to be
approved in a project-by-project, piecemeal fashion, without an assessment
of how such development impacts the natural resources of the surrounding
area and satisfies the compatibility requirements of Lee Plan. Our
organizations request Lee County to declare a interim policy of deferring
approval of rezonings, Comprehensive Plan amendments, and mining
applications until such comprehensive planning is completed and
programs are implemented to satisfy the needs of ecological
functions, water recharge and appropriate land uses within the DR/GR.
Brooks Concerned Citizens
Collier County Audubon Society
Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Corkscrew Rural Community
Council of Civic Associations
Estero Civic Association
Estero Council of Community Leaders
Florida Wildlife Federation
National Wildlife Federation
Responsible Growth Management Coalition
The Community Action Group of the Villages of Country Creek
Wildcat Run Community Association
The “Review and Summary of Studies Containing Information Relating to
Density Reduction / Groundwater Resource (DR/GR) Lands Southeastern Lee
County, Florida” presented to the Board of County Commissioners by McLane
Environmental on June 11th noted the following information gaps on page 62
of the report (the underlines have been added for emphasis):
“The review also revealed that there were a few major components of the
overall character of the DR/GR lands that were not described in sufficient
depth in the documents reviewed as part of this project to permit the
project team to evaluate their importance or significance. For example,
while one of the earlier water resource studies made brief mention of
potential saltwater intrusion impacts for wells in southeastern Lee County,
none of the studies provided more detail on this subject. Similarly, none of
the studies provided a concise hydrologic water budget for the DR/GR lands.
These elements, missing in the documents reviewed, may be addressed in other
documents, studies, and reports beyond those reviewed by the project team.
“Several of the studies mentioned potential groundwater quality impacts
associated with certain land uses, but did not present a current background
data set against which future groundwater quality changes could be measured.
One of the studies described potential hydrologic impacts associated with
mining, but none of the studies described potential ecological impacts. In
addition, while several of the documents mentioned agriculture as a
permitted DR/GR land use, they did not provide information on the
hydrologic, water quality, or ecological impacts associated with
agricultural use of these lands.”
In the absence of reliable information on these topics, Lee County cannot
fully determine how important each one is for the future management of DR/GR
lands in southeastern Lee County.
Bill Spikowski, former Lee County Growth Management Director, and Kevin
Erwin, a local ecologist with clients throughout the world, have recently
also worked to identify DR/GR and rural Lee County information gaps and have
been considering what kinds of planning efforts could help Lee County
advance its planning for DR/GR lands. Their expertise and years of
experience in Lee County produced the following suggested tasks for filling
data gaps and for improving development review and planning in the DR/GR and
other rural lands in Lee County.:
· Analyze the existing
application and approval requirements for rezoning, mining, and agricultural
clearing submittals. Determine any gaps and analyze appropriate
methodologies for collecting essential information to fill any gaps, with
particular attention to southeast Lee County. Determine whether changes to
current regulations may be needed and draft appropriate land development
· Analyze the major land
uses in southeast Lee County such as residential development, mining,
agriculture, and conservation lands. Analyze at least the following levels;
already constructed; approved but not constructed; and pending or imminent
· Formulate potential
land-use that might help achieve a sustainable mosaic of preserved lands,
agricultural uses, mining operations, and rural land uses in the Density
Reduction / Groundwater Resource area. This task is intended to stimulate a
community discussion that may lead to amendments to the Lee Plan.
· Prepare an accurate
existing land use map and cover map using the Florida Land Use and Cover
Classification System (FLUCFCS) at no less than Level III for both current
and historical conditions. Tabulate all results by watershed and
include hydric soils mapping.
· Expand a ground and
surface water monitoring network within each watershed that focuses on a
variety of land use types including native uplands and wetlands, commercial
and residential development, and mining.
· Prepare a water budget and
estimate minimum flows, current and historical (pre-development) water
levels for select streams and wetlands within each watershed.
· Conduct an evaluation of
commonly accepted scientific hydrological modeling systems currently used to
assess a variety of land use activities. Determine if these modeling systems
represent the best available science for understanding the impacts of
activities, including but not limited to residential development,
agriculture and mining.
Many developers rushed to get building permits during June because the
road impact fees imposed on permits issued after that date are triple the
earlier rate. As a result the value of
Estero’s commercial permits reached
an all-time high during June.
The value of
commercial buildings permitted in Estero during the first half of 2007
totaled $134.7 million. Estero’s commercial permits during 2006 totaled
$184.7 million, all exclusive of the underlying land.
The major projects that contributed to the six month total are:
The following table shows how the first six months of 2007 compares with the
same period during the prior seven years:
Annual TotalHousing Units
Building Value of Units
Value Per Unit
Percentage of Single Family Units
Not only is the 2007 number of housing units below all prior years it is
only 48% of the total during the first six months of 2002, the season
immediately following the tragedy of 9/11/2001.
In spite of the decline in the number of housing units permitted, the
average building value, excluding the land beneath it, continues to
increase, up almost 13% from the prior high set last year. The average
building value in 2007 is more than double (up 105%) from the average in
2000, in spite of the share of more expensive single family homes being
Estero's 2007 property tax base grew by $1.15 billion, or 20.3%, to $6.8
billion. This increase is smaller than last year’s record increase of $1.47
billion but is equal to Estero’s total tax base in 2000, just seven years
For the first time in Estero’s history the tax base increase was greatly due
to commercial, not residential, development. As the above report indicates
the result next year is likely to be quite similar.
As a result of this growth Estero’s tax base is now:
75 percent greater than the City of Fort Myers Beach
31 percent greater than the City of Sanibel
3 percent less than the City of Fort Myers
39 percent less than the City of Bonita Springs
68 percent less than the City of Cape Coral
On June 5th the Lee County School Board approved an option to purchase
agreement with the United States Postal Service (USPS) for a 4.6 acre site
on the east side of Three Oaks Parkway about one-half mile north of
Corkscrew Road. The initial Post Office will consist of 4,000 square feet,
three customer service counters and 24 hour access to post office boxes.
Mail carrier’s will continue to work out of the Broadway facility.
The agreement gives the Superintendent of Schools the authority to start
executing the sale documents; for the district to commence the survey
required by state law to declare the land as unnecessary for educational
purposes and finally to execute the sale documents. This process is expected
to take several months. Meanwhile the USPS will perform its survey, title
and design research. When the purchase is finalized the USPS will set their
On June 18, 2004 Bill Moore and Kathy Babcock of the Lee County School
District reported to the Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL) that the
School District had completed preliminary plans that include a five acre
site for a
office the 73 acre site that they had recently purchased along the
east side of Three Oaks Parkway just north of the Three Oaks Banquet Hall.
They indicated that the School District would hold 5 acres of land along
Three Oaks Parkway for a post office if environmental studies indicated that
there was enough usable land for a general high school, an elementary school
and the post office on the site. These studies were expected to take two
years to complete.
On December 15, 2006 the USPS notified Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah
that they selected the Lee County School District site for a new Estero Post
office. The new Post Office was planned to contain 4,000 square feet. Postal
Service carriers will continue to use the existing postal facility on
Broadway. The proposed Post Office will be a far smaller facility than that
contemplated by the USPS when they held a public hearing in Estero on April
27, 2005. At that time they spoke about a 23,000 square foot facility with
30 trucks/routes initially and the capacity to handle up to 50
trucks/routes. (See the April 2005 Estero Development Report at
Florida DOT selected the I-75 design/build/finance team in March, awarded
the $430.5 million contract in April, and issued the notice to proceed in
June. They expect construction activity to start at the southern end
of the job near the Golden Gate interchange this fall. Construction is
expected to be completed by the end of 2010. This 30-mile project
advances six-lane improvements to the interstate in Lee and Collier Counties
(from Golden Gate to Colonial) as many as five years and includes
improvements to the I-75/Immokalee Road interchange in Collier County.
In April and May representatives of The Vines,
Breckenridge, and Pine
Road met with FDOT regarding the safety issues related to egress onto
Restrictions on traffic directions have been proposed to reduce traffic use
of the median cut between the communities.
In June FDOT met with stakeholders for the purpose of defining what is
needed to advance the start date of the widening project and achieving
commitments to do so.
Two primary issues must be solved: (1) Securing the location and completing
the design of the water retention pond, and (2) Obtaining funding for the
FDOT has designed a specific water retention system by which a portion of
the Boomer property can be utilized as a water retention site. Commissioner
Judah has initiated talks with Representatives of Mrs. Boomer to ensure the
spirit of the agreement with Mrs. Boomer regarding limited uses of the
property is met. No progress has been confirmed.
FDOT and Wal-Mart are in discussions about potential Wal-Mart advance
funding of the construction of the segment from just south of Estero Pkwy
north to San Carlos Parkway. The necessity to include a traffic control
signal at Estero Parkway and US 41 has been made clear to all involved by
the local residents and the ECCL.
Funding of the south segment from Corkscrew Road north to Estero Parkway has
not yet been secured.
Despite the pleas of many there is no real demonstrated sense of urgency
among government officials for this project. Neither has there been a
sincere effort to inform the public. The coming seasonal increase in traffic
will meet the same old “all smoke but no fire” for this vital roadway
As of July 30th, 2007, the ultimate revision to
intersection remains uncertain. The developer maintains that their
obligation, with only a “right-in, right-out” condition, is a simple radius
entrance and exit, with a pavement design that will structurally allow only
a right-turn, when exiting the project. The County maintains that the
Developer will be required to provide a “deceleration” lane into the
project, and some, undetermined, improvement at the eastbound intersection.
On May 25th, Community members met with Commissioner Judah and Lee DOT staff
to review the matter and determine if some additional County funds might be
available to facilitate the desired intersection design and construction.
The Community was told that is unlikely, but a “Master Signal Project” fund
exists, which is primarily used for “Major Intersections”.
In June a Community member met with
West Bay Club Development, LLC, and the
developer of the West Bay Club, to request their involvement and
intervention in the matter, as a failing intersection at Williams and US 41,
could adversely affect sales at WBC.
In November 2004, the Paradise Shops shopping center, located on the
northeast corner of Williams and US 41, was approved by the Lee BOCC, with a
condition, based on the Hearing Examiner’s recommendation, that access to
the project via Williams Road, would only be allowed on a “right-in and
right-out” basis, until such time as the west side of the intersection at US
41 was improved. This decision was supported by local residents.
In December 2004 and several times thereafter the Developer, Paradise
Development, desirous of having the ability to have a left-turn egress onto
Williams and subsequently a signalized left (North) onto US 41, met with
members of ECCL, County staff, and others to discuss a solution. In February
2005, a preliminary, 5-lane footprint (one westbound lane, 2 left turn lanes
onto US 41, an eastern through lane, and right only), was proposed, at an
estimated cost of $445,000. In addition the developers of the West Bay Club
agreed to contribute 15 feet of right-of-way on the south side of Williams
to provide for the space needed to this improvement. This solution was
conditionally acceptable by all parties.
Since that meeting, other technical discussions proceeded, the Developer
submitted a DO application, and the Williams Road subject was reviewed by
various County Departments and FDOT.
As a result of input from these various agencies, the scope of work
increased, resulting in a project now estimated to cost over $800,000. The
primary causes of the cost increase are utility relocation on the north side
of Williams and signalization changes. The developer of Paradise Shoppes
will not commit to underwrite the entire increased cost of the improvement.
Lee DOT may be willing to provide some materials for signalization. West Bay
Club Development continues to donate 15 feet of property along the south
side of Williams.
Local residents agree that the intersection is currently failing, even
before the Paradise Shops development opens for business. Local residents
are concerned that without improvements to the intersection, the opening of
Paradise Shoppes will create other traffic and safety problems along
Williams from motorists that turn right (West), out of the project, and then
U-turn into either the assisted living facility,
The Meadows Community or
the Fountain Lakes entrance, in order to “backtrack” and access the signal
at the US 41 intersection. At present the signal at Williams and US 41
provides the only signalized exit onto US 41 for the development.
During July Oakbrook Properties supplied the ECCL Transportation
Committee with their updated traffic report required by the Coconut Point
Development of Regional Impact (DRI) approved by Lee County in 2002.
Hopefully this report can be used to provide FDOT with traffic projections
that would support installation of a traffic signal on US 41 where it
intersects with Pelican Colony Boulevard, about one-half mile south of
Coconut Road. This signal would provide substantial traffic relief to the
Coconut US 41 intersection, especially westbound traffic on Coconut Road
approaching US 41.
JED Development reports that the delay in beginning the widening of the west
side of the Coconut US 41 intersection has been caused by slow approval of
the needed bonding authority for the prime contractor of this project. This
problem has delayed the project by a least one month…it originally was to
commence in June and be completed by year end. Thus it appears it will still
be under construction during the heat of the 2007-08 season.
On May 9th an ECCL Transportation committee met with representatives of
Lee County and Florida Departments of Transportation and the developers of
Coconut Point and
Coconut Crossing, the major projects that surround the
intersection of Coconut and US 41 to discuss traffic problems in and around
the intersection and what can be done about those problems.
At present the greatest problem with the intersection is the backup of
traffic approaching the intersection from the east and desiring to turn
south onto US 41. In spite of the fact that a second left turn lane was
added to this approach about one year ago, it is not uncommon for left turn
traffic to overflow the two turn lanes by a quarter to one-half mile, thus
blocking the through traffic lane and preventing vehicles from entering and
making left turns Via onto Villagio and Health Center Road, both of which
are located quite near this intersection. This corner has been the site of
several recent accidents.
This problem is partially caused by the three cycle traffic signal at this
intersection that is needed because the west and east sides of Coconut Road
are not properly aligned. The three cycles include: one cycle for the
movement of north and southbound traffic On US 41; the second for Coconut
Road traffic from the west and finally to permit movement of Coconut Road
traffic from the east. Proper alignment would permit the Coconut westbound
and eastbound traffic to move at the same time, thus permitting more time
for each movement.
The Proposed Improvements
At the meeting JED Development, the developers of Coconut Crossing on the
northwest corner of the US 41 Coconut Road intersection, announced that they
had just received a permit allowing them to begin construction of the
Coconut Road widening of the western approach to the intersection that is
required by their Development Order. When completed the western entrance to
the intersection will be expanded from three to six lanes with two westbound
lanes and four eastbound. The westbound lanes include one right turn lane
into Coconut Crossing and the second a through lane. The eastbound lanes
include two left turn lanes, one through lane and one right turn lane. The
intersection expansion is on right-of-way available on the north side of
Coconut Road so that it will properly align west Coconut Road with the
eastern approach to the intersection, thus permitting the traffic signal to
be converted to a two phase signal.
Finally the participants discussed the installation of a traffic signal at
US 41 and Pelican Colony Boulevard, about one-half mile south of the
intersection, in order to divert more westbound traffic south onto Via
Coconut Point and away from the Coconut - US 41 intersection. When installed
the signal must be paid for by Oakbrook Properties, the developers of
Coconut Point, and possibly by the developers of the properties on the west
side of this intersection.
The FDOT representatives indicated that the signal could not be installed
until it satisfies the State’s signal assessment system. However, FDOT
indicated that these standards may be satisfied using an analysis of the
traffic in the fast emerging area that surrounds this intersection.
Fortunately, the developers of Coconut Point are just completing such a
study in order to satisfy the requirements of their zoning as a Development
of Regional Impact. Oakbrook has agreed to work with the community and Lee
DOT to expand upon this study in order to satisfy the State’s traffic study
Installation of the irrigation system has been underway now for over one
month. A partial pressure test has been completed and passed inspection. The
contract for the project allows the contractor 150 days to complete the
project, thus the estimated completion date is August 11, 2007. A portion of
this project will not be installed at this time due to adjacent
construction, but will not impact the overall design intent.
On May 15th the BOCC approved a contact for Vila & Sons Landscaping Corp.
in the amount of $418,289 to install the irrigation and landscaping for the
Corkscrew I-75 interchange area. Thus in August the County is expected to
issue its Notice To Proceed authorizing the contractor to begin work on the
project. The County’s plan is for the landscape installation to be completed
within 90 days as this is combined project with FDOT and must be completed
by year end. p>