Estero Development Report
Volume 1, Number 1
Issued May 2001
Edited by ECCO--the Estero Concerned Citizens Organization
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Estero Development Activities during May 2001
After almost seven months County planning staff responded to the draft Estero Community plan with about 40 suggestions for amendment. ECCO participated in a meeting of the Plan Steering Committee and Dan DeLisi of Vanasse & Daylor, the planner hired by the steering committee and paid for this phase by the Estero Chamber of Commerce and later with County Planning staff. DeLisi is now in process of preparing some amendatory language for county staff reflecting the agreements reached at that meeting. The County Land Planning Agency will review the revised plan on June 25th and the Board of County Commissioners will consider it in July.
ECCO invited the leadership of the Estero Chamber of Commerce and the Estero Civic Association to review the report of the Future Governance Task Force. Margie Mancini, co-chair of the Task Force, presented the report that outlines the advantages and disadvantages of each of the three options before Estero: remaining a part of unincorporated Lee County; being annexed to Bonita Springs or incorporating as a municipality. ECCO plans to work with Estero's community organizations to assess the preferences of the citizens of Estero about the three options late this fall when all the residents of the community are once again in the area.
The Lee Plan currently contain a combined Estero-San Carlos Planning area. Last year when Bonita Springs became a city a portion of the Bonita Springs planning area was not included in the city. Thus, county planning staff is preparing to amend the community planning area boundaries now included in the Lee Plan. County staff is proposing that a new Estero Planning Community adding that part of the former Bonita Springs planning area not included in the City to the Estero Fire Rescue boundaries and excluding the San Carlos area. Mike Henning of The
Vines reports that The Vines Board of Directors are in the process of formally requesting county planning staff to include The Vines in the new Estero Planning Community. Rick Burris is the senior Lee planner assigned to this project.
ECCO testified in opposition to a gas station, car wash, convenience store or fast food restaurant being located on the northeast corner of Koreshan and 41. The Lee County Board approved the project for 820 dwelling units, 320,000 square foot of retail and 20,000 square foot of office but no gas station, car wash, convenience store or fast food franchise on the property.
Through the efforts of ECCO's Arnie Rosenthal an unprecedented community meeting to review the "Riverplace" zoning plan for this property (northeast corner of 41 and Corkscrew) with its planner and County Zoning and Planning before the Public Hearing on the rezoning was originally scheduled for 2 p.m. on May 29th. At the request of Greg Stewart, planner for the project, the meeting has been postponed until mid-June so that the zoning plan can be further refined. The Public Hearing on the project's zoning has been postponed until after the community meeting and County Zoning staff has filed their report with the Hearing Officer. Efforts are also being made to have the zoning application documents available for inspection at the Library prior to the meeting and the Public Hearing.
Construction on this building continues at a rapid pace. Albertson's has rejected ECCO's request to upgrade the landscaping it has planned for the store, which satisfies County minimum standards but falls short of being a model for the community on the basis that it would be costly and would require Albertson's to amend its development plans late in the development process. After discussing the issue with the County, ECCO has once again written Albertson's informing them that Lee County would not require landscape plan amendments should Albertson's decide to add additional plantings to those included in its approved landscape plan.
The Lee County Transportation department informs ECCO that funding has been approved for the long delayed "core" landscaping of Corkscrew Road from Sandy Lane to just west of Interstate 75. Lee County adopted its Roadway Landscape plan in late 1998 after the budget for the widening of Corkscrew Road was approved. As a result, there were no funds budgeted for landscaping Corkscrew. The county has now allocated $250,000 for landscaping this roadway and plans to begin installing large trees and sod in Corkscrew's medians once the rainy season begins.
Lee County DOT is now seeking bids to build the nearly one mile segment of Three Oaks Parkway from Williams Road to Corkscrew Road. This four-lane divided roadway is expected to cost about $1.8 million. The County Board directed that one percent of that amount, or $18,000, be set aside to landscape the medians using the County's "core" landscape plan. County DOT estimates that "core" landscaping of this segment will cost $167,000. ECCO has been told that the necessary supplemental funding is in process of approval and that the "core" landscaping package may still be installed before the construction project is completed early in 2002. The sleeves for plant irrigation and lighting will be installed as the road is constructed. ECCO will be working with the property owners along this segment of Three Oaks to upgrade the landscaping to the higher level installed on Three Oaks in the Brooks immediately to the south.
(On 41 in front of The
The Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council has found this project's application for Development of Regional Impact sufficient (complete) and has requested Lee County to schedule a DRI public hearing. This notice requires the County to schedule a public hearing at its next scheduled meeting. Thereafter notice of the meeting shall be posted at least 60 days in advance of the hearing and shall specify where the information and reports on the DRI application may be reviewed. The pubic hearing is likely to be scheduled no earlier than August.
On May 2nd Jerry Schmoyer and Tim Byal of Miromar Development briefed ECCO members on their plans for the Miramar Lakes development which borders Florida Gulf Coast University. The project is expected to contain over 2,600 homes, a four or five star resort hotel, two golf courses, two large lakes and over 600,000 square feet of commercial space. Ben Hill Griffin Parkway, the major thoroughfare through the area, will soon become a landscaped boulevard from Alico Road to Corkscrew Road as part of the University Overlay adopted by Lee County when this site was approved. The same landscape and lighting scheme will be installed on Koreshan Boulevard from Ben Hill Griffin to Interstate 75. ECCO plans to initiate discussions with the property owners along Koreshan from Interstate 75 to Highway 41 to in an effort to extend this plan to the Western University Gateway.
(Between Three Oaks Parkway--soon under construction-- and River Ranch Road south of Horne Lane)---on May 21st the Board of County Commissioners discussed rezoning this 29-acre site to permit 100 single-family homes rather than 82 units as previously permitted. The Board did not approve the petition due to the disclosure of an easement that would conflict with the development plan. The case was sent back to the Hearing Examiner to resolve this problem. The Public Hearing on this matter has been scheduled for June 7th. The plan for the development maintains the former layout with all of the homes surrounding a large lake in the center of the development. The development can be entered either from River Ranch or Three Oaks.
Land clearance has begun on this project located on the northeast corner of Williams Road and River Ranch Road, just west of Estero High School. The Corkscrew Hammock property is zoned for 250 housing units on this 50-acre site. Corkscrew Hammock is the third new housing development--along with The Rookery and Colonial Lakes--to get underway this year in the area east of Highway 41 between Williams Road and Koreshan Boulevard and west of Interstate 75. These three developments will contain about 550-600 new housing units.
Construction has started on a 105-room hotel immediately adjacent to the new
Bonita Community Health Center on 41 just south of Coconut Road. A bank and a single story office building are also planned for the site that has been expanded by the demolition of the former
Brooks sales center. If these buildings are of the same high quality as the Health Center they will be great assets for Estero.
The entire 47 acre Estero Interstate Commerce Park site on the northwest corner of Corkscrew Road and I-75 has been cleared in preparation for the construction of the planned 250 room Holiday Inn on part of this site. The approved development order authorizes the construction of the principal internal roadway and a lake and clearing the underbrush from the preserves at the rear of the property. ECCO plans to meet with the developer of this project soon to learn more about their plans for the property which is zoned for 140,000 square feet of retail and 20,000 square feet of warehouse-distribution in addition to the hotel.
The appearance of Corkscrew Village Shopping Center will not be enhanced by the addition of a Wendy's Drive-Through restaurant which will front on Highway 41 just south of Corkscrew Road. This quite attractive center will soon be shielded from view by buildings with incompatible architecture and minimum landscaping.
In order to avoid a possible legal dispute with an East Coast development Grand Oaks has changed its name to Grandezza. Other aspects of the 425-acre, 800 home golf course development located on the north side of Corkscrew Road just east of Ben Hill Griffin Boulevard are not changed.
Construction has begun on a bank and an interior design center on highway 41 immediately in front of The Vines. The Vines Board has met with the developers and approves of the project layout and design.
The substation is planned for an area northeast of the northeast corner of the Grandezza development but visible from Corkscrew Road. Lee county zoning staff indicates to ECCO that this facility will be surrounded by a four to six foot berm supplemented by a vegetative barrier reaching eight feet in height. This plan far exceeds County minimum standards.
According to the Bonita Banner Atlantic Gulf Communities Corporation, the parent company of West Bay Club has filed for Chapter 11-bankruptcy reorganization. The petition did not include West Bay Club, one of the company's more profitable developments. During the first quarter of 2001 West Bay Club had its best quarter on record with sales of over $15 million. The project has sold about 215 homes in its first two years, with 270 more planned. Sales of the community's high rise buildings will soon be announced.
Newspaper reports indicate that the Stoneybrook development on Corkscrew Road just east of I-75 in Estero has only 500 more homes to be sold out of the 1,840 units authorized by its zoning. The company expects to sell about 250 homes per year to complete the project in about 2003.
On May 11th Lee county staff negotiated several minor changes in the development order for this project, located on the south side of Corkscrew Road well east of Wildcat Run, that was originally zoned in 1986. The project is planned for 2,350 homes, a golf course and 120,000 square feet of commercial space. Construction is expected to begin later this year.
The Heritage Residential Group of Florida, developers of this project on the north side of Coconut Road west of Highway 41, reports that they have sold 50 of the 168 homes planned for the community.
The Bonita Bay Group, developers of
Estero's largest housing development, recently reported that 339 housing units were sold in this development during the first quarter of 2001, representing a 21% increase over the same period last year. In 2000 754 housing units were sold in the Brooks; in 1999 about 550 homes and in 1998 about 200 homes. Thus a total of about 1,850 homes have been sold in this community in three and one quarter years. The Brooks is zoned for 5,200 homes but is estimated that it will contain as many as 1,000 fewer units when it is completed.