Estero Development Report
Volume 3, Number 1
Issued May 2003
Edited by ECCO--the Estero Concerned Citizens Organization
For further information, to provide information or to add names to our mailing list,
Email Don Eslick at email@example.com or call him at 949-4050
Estero Development Activities during May 2003
June Opportunities for Citizen Participation In Protecting Estero's Quality of Life
|9:30 a.m.||Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Hearing on Estero Pointe CPD, Park Circle CPD and Longwood Villas RPD Zoning||Commission Chambers, 2120 Main Street, 2nd Floor|
|6 p.m.||Roadway Landscape Advisory Committee Meeting ||County Community Development Building, Conf. Room 3A, 1500 Monroe Street, Ft. Myers|
|8 a.m. ||Urban Land Institute Seminar on Regional Land Planning Issues||Florida Gulf Coast University|
|6 p.m.||Estero Community Planning Panel Meeting-- Wal-Mart and Williams Three Oaks CPD Presentation||Marsh Landing Clubhouse|
|6 p.m.||Estero Fire Commission Meeting||Estero United Methodist Church--Founders Hall|
|5:05 p.m.||BOCC First Hearing on Land Development Code Changes including the Estero Sign Code||Commission Chambers, 2120 Main Street, 2nd Floor|
|5 p.m. ||Estero Design Review Committee||The Perry Room of The Vines Country Club|
|2 p.m.||ECCO Council of Community Leaders Meeting.||Marsh Landing Clubhouse|
|6:30 p.m.||Estero Community Park Design Public Input Meeting||South County Regional Library|
|9:00 a.m.||Local Planning Agency review of DLC changes including the Estero Sign Provisions||Commission Chambers, 2120 Main Street, 2nd Floor|
|5:05 p.m.||BOCC Final Hearing on Land Development Code Changes including the Estero Sign Code||Commission Chambers, 2120 Main Street, 2nd Floor|
|5:00 p.m.||Estero Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours-- County Commissioner John Albion||The Vines Country Club|
The meeting of the ECPP on June 9th will hear presentations and provide public input on two commercial projects that are immediately adjacent to residential areas. The first project is a zoning application for the Tucker Property, a 10 acre orange grove site on the northwest corner of Three Oaks and Williams Road, from agriculture to Commercial Planned Development. This commercial site is surrounded by residential developments--The
Brooks to the south and east; the Lakes of Estero to the west and Colonial Lakes to the north.
Later in the meeting representatives of the Wal-Mart Corporation will present a proposal for construction of a 208,000 Wal-Mart superstore on the northeast corner of US 41 and Koreshan Boulevard, just south of The
Vines; across US41 from Breckenridge and just west of an unnamed future housing development. This is a public input presentation. The developer will use that input prior to a rezoning presentation before the ECPP that is expected in July. We encourage all Estero residents, especially those in communities located near the proposed developments, to attend (see the calendar above for details).
The public hearing on Estero's 65 acre community park has been scheduled for Wednesday June 18th (see calendar above for details). The County Parks and Recreation Department and its architects will once again discuss with the community the design of the 37,000 square foot community building, but in much more detail than before, as well as other elements that will be included in the park. The county expects to go out for bids on the site preparation and building construction work early this fall, with the actual site preparation work beginning shortly thereafter. This meeting, and possibly one more, will be your last chance to influence the design of the park and its community building. Please plan on attending and adding your suggestions to this community jewel.
Estero Fire Rescue is now taking applications for their June session of Community Emergency Response Team Training (CERT). CERT is about readiness, people helping people, and rescuer safety. A program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), CERT training is critical to supporting first responders and preparing people of the United States for all kinds of disasters.
Through CERT training, community members can manage utilities, put out small fires, provide basic medical aid, search for rescue victims safely, and organize themselves to be effective following a disaster. The goal of the program is to train a nucleus of Estero residents in a realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations. This training will allow these individuals to serve as the crucial core of an integrated program of community preparedness.
In the event of a disaster, CERT trained volunteers would provide much-needed backup for first responders throughout Estero. After disaster strikes, and before help arrives, CERT volunteers can be of enormous help to individuals, families and the community.
The classes will be held every Thursday afternoon starting June 19th and concluding with a mock disaster drill on Thursday, August 7th. Classes are FREE for Estero residents and for those working in Estero. Please call Estero Fire Rescue for details and an application at 947-3473.
The ECPP meeting on May 12th did not hear from any developers seeking community support for their zoning request, but rather focused upon Land Development Code changes being developed by the panel and under review by Lee County. Several of the Panel's sign regulations were considered by the County's Local Planning Agency late in the month and will be reviewed again by that agency and by the BOCC late in June. If approved by the BOCC this initiative:
- Creates an Estero Sign Overlay District containing all the commercial areas of Estero;
- Establishes ground mounted "monument signs" as the only acceptable type of permanent sign for business establishments throughout Estero and bans the use of "pole" and "pylon" signs;
- Phases out all existing signs that do not conform to these new standards eight years after these standards become law;
- Prohibits several other types of signs including but not limited to animated signs, emitting signs, balloons, banners, pennants, billboards, off-site directional signs,
- Regulates the use of commercial temporary signs, and
- Requires all new on-site commercial signs to display the street address of the property.
Other Land Development Code changes under development by the ECPP will be considered in a special amendment cycle expected to begin in July. The following major ECCP proposals should move forward in that cycle:
- A US 41 Overlay District,
- An amendment to the Main Street (Corkscrew Road) Overlay District that would extend it's standards to Sandy Lane between Williams and Corkscrew and to US 41 between Corkscrew and Broadway,
- Additional sign regulations that would specify the height and size of monument signs for each type of commercial development and the size of wall mounted signs on retail establishments, and
- "Big Box" standards that would govern the appearance of large retail buildings and the parking lots associated with them.
Finally, the Panel discussed hiring a professional planner to represent the community at governmental hearings and meetings requiring a representative with professional and practical experience in planning and zoning matters.
The EDRC had its most productive meeting to date on May 14th at the Vines Country Club when it considered requests from four developers.
The first presentation was by Toll Brothers the developers of BELLE LAGO, a large housing development located on the north side of Koreshan Boulevard just east of the railroad tracks. The sales office for the project recently opened on the site. The developers were not required to make a presentation to the EDRC but nevertheless sought the committee's comments on their plans and renderings of the entrance to the project.
The second presentation was made by representatives from Coastal Engineering Consultants for
this project which will be located on the
southwest corner of US 41 and Coconut Road. Prior to this meeting the developers had submitted plans to the WCI Design Review Committee who recommended several changes in the building design as well as the landscaping plan. The consultant distributed the WCI Design Review Committee comments, requests, and suggestions in regards to the plans presented. Major changes suggested by the WCI committee are to give the building more of a Mediterranean style so that it will blend in with the
Brooks Grand Plaza directly across the US 41 and to change the color of the building accordingly. The EDRC generally agreed with WCI Design Review Committee recommendations and suggested that the developer have the plans updated accordingly and upon completion return to the Committee for another review.
Next the EDRC heard from the developers of the International Design Center that will be located just east of I-75 on Corkscrew Road opposite the
Miromar Outlet Mall. The eastern boundary is adjacent to the entrance to Stony Brook. The design center will be a three story building to be built in three phases--the first phase of the building was the subject of this hearing. The Design Review members suggested some ideas for the developer's consideration, among them:
consider changing the color of the building from pure white to a less stark color;
use of light colored pavers in the valet area instead of asphalt;
add pedestrian connection sidewalks;
- enhance right of way buffer with Royal Palms instead of Canopy trees;
landscape around the foundation of the building;
- plant palms along entrance street to balance the Royal Palms on both sides of the road;
work with FDOT to buffer the communication tower on the site and remove or block the chain link fence around it from view.
With these changes the committee felt that the design the building would be a great asset to the overall look of Corkscrew Road and be an asset to Estero.
Tom McLean and Theresa Artuso of Holes Montes made the presentation on behalf of the owners of this 46 acre parcel on the northwest corner of Coconut Road and US 41. The proposal presented to the EDRC was for road and water drainage infrastructure only and does not include any parcel development. Future landscaping will feature Cocopalms and Cabbage Palms. As each parcel is developed, building and landscape plans will be brought to the committee for review. There will be a property owners association that will help to coordinate the appearance of the development including landscaping.
During April 162 housing units were permitted in Estero with a building value of over $22 million. This continues the rebound that we reported last month. The following table summarizes Estero's housing permit experience during the January to April period for the last four years:
Number of Units Permitted
New residential communities once again led the way; The
Gardens of Estero ranked first in units permitted with 40, all multi-family units; in second place was Grandezza with 37 units permitted including 5 single family homes and 32 multifamily; the Cascades was third with 28 units permitted -- all single family homes; while Stoneybrook ranked fourth with 27 units -- 9 single family and 18 multi-family. These four projects contributed over 80% of all housing units permitted in Estero during April.
Year-to-date, the building value of housing units permitted in Estero constituted one fourth (25%) of the total for all of unincorporated LeeCounty. Including commercial units permitted Estero produced 18% of the total building value for unincorporated LeeCounty during this same period. Year to date Estero's permitted housing building value was almost three times that of Bonita Springs (291%). Overall the total building value of permits issued for Estero projects year to date was just over double (204%) times the comparable BonitaSprings total.
Projects in Process
On May 9th Ron Dillon of Oakbrook Properties, the developer of the 483 acre property that will contain this regional shopping center, presented the Development Agreement (DA) that they and the Simon Group have negotiated with Lee County staff. This agreement will soon be presented to the BOCC for their approval.
The Development Agreement defines the responsibility of the developer and the county regarding project related road funding and construction. The Developer's are obligated to pay or provide land and road improvements to the County with a total value of $14.77 million in 2002 dollars.
The first installment on this obligation equals $6.27 million, must be paid in cash, and must be paid on or before December 31st, 2003or at the time the first building permit is issued for the project. Payment of these funds entitles the Developer to obtain permits for all non-retail uses included in the zoning and up to 400,000 square feet of retail uses.
On or before December 31, 2004 or the issuance of the first building permit for retail uses totaling more than 400,000 square feet, which ever occurs first, the Developer will make a payment to Lee County of $8.5 million in the form of cash, impact fee payments and credits, improvements undertaken pursuant to this Agreement (subject to County approval) or right-of-way land dedications to the County.
The DA outlines in great detail the procedures for the development of Sandy Lane from Corkscrew Road to the extension of Pelican Colony Boulevard, which terminates at the northern entrance to
Pelican Landing and to the southern boundary of the property, just north of the Sanibel Steakhouse. By December 31, 2004 the Developer must dedicate a 100 foot right of way between Williams Road and Pelican Colony Boulevard to the County and shortly thereafter is required to dedicate a 100 foot right of way to the County between Pelican Colony Boulevard and the southern project boundary. The value of the dedicated land in both segments is fully creditable against the Developer's second installment obligation. The Developer is permitted to dedicate a wider right of way to the County but will not be eligible for any credits or compensation for that additional right of way. The Agreement expects that the Sandy Lane corridor alignment study will be completed by October 1, 2004.
The Agreement further provides that the Developer may cause 120 feet of right-of-way which is currently under the ownership of other parties to be dedicated to LeeCounty for the extension of Sandy Lane between Williams Road and Corkscrew Road. The value of these lands are fully creditable to the owners of this property.
The Agreement further provides that the Developer may design and construct a two-lane urban collector road within the right-of-way dedicated for the Sandy Lane Extension. The capital costs attributable to the design, permitting and construction of the two-lane segment are eligible for impact fee credits or an offset against the proportionate share obligation upon review and approval by the County. Under some circumstances wetland or environmental mitigation costs attributable to the design of a two-lane urban collector within 100' are creditable against the Developer's obligation.
Pursuant to the Agreement, the Developer may design and construct a four-lane Sandy Lane Extension collector roadway. However, any costs attributable to the design or construction of the additional two lanes are considered site-related and will not be eligible for credits or compensation.
The County agrees that the alignment of Sandy Lane Extension from Corkscrew Road to the project's south property line will be established in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement.
In addition Lee County will negotiate the agreement with Seminole Gulf Railroad for a two lane right-of-way and utility crossing. The reasonable cost of providing a two-lane railroad crossing between Williams Road and Corkscrew Road, as determined by Lee County, will be creditable to the Developer. At the Developer's option, LeeCounty may negotiate a modification or add provisions to the agreement for an expansion of the two-lane crossing to a four-lane crossing. However, any additional cost associated with this modification will not entitle the developer to additional credits.
The payments made by the developer under this Agreement addresses the project’s impacts on the transportation network, and substitutes for the payment of road impact fees at the time of permitting. This Agreement will be reviewed annually by Lee County and the Developer, commencing one year after its effective date.
The financial obligation that the Developer is committing to in this Agreement indicates that the
Coconut Point Town Center project is viable and moving ahead expeditiously in spite of the weakness of the national economy. The extensive treatment of Sandy Lane in the document underscores how important that project is, not only to the residents of Estero, but to the Developer as well.
Consideration of the Agreement by the BOCC is expected next month. Once approved the Developers and the County can immediately proceed to design Sandy Lane as a four lane road, negotiate the railroad crossing, obtain the required permits and assemble the necessary right of way. Getting Sandy Lane underway as soon as possible will relieve some pressure from US 41 and Three Oaks Parkway. All signs point to the first 800,000 square feet of the Town Center opening in the fall of 2005, thus the need to continue our efforts to accelerate road construction throughout the area. We encourage you to urge the County Commissionersto approve the Coconut Point Development Agreement as soon as possible:
Corkscrew Palms I is the project on the south side of Corkscrew Road between US 41 and River Ranch Road where three Mediterranean office buildings are under construction. Developer Andy D'Jamoos indicated that leasing and sales on this project have been going very well. He states that 85% of these building have been sold and that construction will begin soon on two additional buildings. He estimates that some of the businesses locating here will be able to occupy their space by about August 1st. Finally, he indicates that the firm is seeking more property on Corkscrew Road and wants to develop a "solid, positive relationship with the Estero community."
Road Improvement Progress
from Corkscrew Road to San Carlos Boulevard
During April the MPO voted to ask Congressman Porter Goss to try to get a high priority project authorization for six-laning this roadway segment included in the act reauthorizing the Federal-Aid Highway Programs this year. ECCO obtained copies of the MPO letter to Cong. Goss and sent a similar letter to Congressman Goss and Senators Nelson and Graham and urged other Estero community leaders to do likewise.
In addition ECCO has begun to work with some of our local banks to develop a loan package designed to accelerate the right-of-way funding of this segment by about 18 months. Once this package has be refined ECCO will schedule a meeting of FDOT, Lee County DOT and our local developers to implement this program in time for it to be presented to the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) prior to their revision of the five-year regional roadway priority plan.
During May, progress on timely construction of the Three Oaks Parkway between Terry Street and Estero's southern boundary was threatened by another potential lawsuit. This one involves a dispute within the Tesone family, the owners of a 513 acre tract in the path of the alignment of this road segment. Some members of the family believe that the price that Centex Homes has contracted to pay for the land is substantially below its market value.
On the brighter side, on May 27th the BOCC approved a Joint Supplemental Interlocal Agreement with the City of Bonita Springs allowing DOT to proceed with the design, permitting, ROW acquisition and construction of this much needed project. This agreement spells out the County and City responsibilities and opportunities for consultation throughout the road improvement process. The funding table attached to this ordinance indicates that the funds for construction of the road will not be available until October 2005, two and one half years from now. Hopefully permitting and right of way acquisition can be accelerated and the County and Bonita Springs will be forced to find the funding to begin construction earlier.
The permitting process may be improved as a result of Lee DOT's hiring a highly skilled biologist with extensive permitting experience to assist them with their roadway permitting activities. We applaud the county for taking this step and look forward to shorter Federal permit approval times.
The Roadway Landscaping Advisory Committee (RLAC) discussed and approved final intensified core level landscaping plans for Corkscrew Road. The plan proposes additional plantings in he median and along the north right-of-way. The committee proposed that Crepe Myrtles be planted between the Royal Palm Trees; that Sabal palm groupings be mixed with Oleanders and Silver Saw Palmetto groupings be added underneath the oak trees.
In addition some guardrail areas might have Silver Saw Palmetto on the backside if feasible to run irrigation water for establishment. On the north side of the road there will be some groupings of Sabal Palms and some Royal Palms. It was suggested that Ligustrums might also be planted under the Royal Palms to good effect. The county will attempt to work with the existing designer and contractor to complete the project by amending the existing contracts. If that is possible, the additional changes should be completed later this year.
The RLAC agreed that this plan could also be used as an intensified core level landscaping for Three Oaks Parkway between Corkscrew and Williams Roads.
from north Old 41 in Bonita Springs to Corkscrew Road
At the May meeting of the RLAC, Wilson Miller Engineering presented a detailed design for landscaping this segment under the three major constraints imposed by the State--
- view zones for 6 billboards;
- limits of clear sight at intersections and turn lanes; and
- areas limited to ground cover in the turn lane tapers near the intersections.
By law billboard view zones are 1000 feet in front of each sign, of which the first 500’ must be provided clear of trees unless an agreement is reached between the billboard owners and the County. Secondly there are sight distance areas at major intersections and at left turn locations in the median where the vertical sight distance is defined as 8½ feet from the bottom of the canopy to the ground line. Satisfying this requirement is complicated by the State's requirement that no trees with large trunks can be planted on medians as narrow as these where the road is built, like this segment, with a design speed of 50 mph or more. In addition there are areas where FDOT will not permit any planting except ground cover.
Pat Moore, the County's Roadway Landscape Engineer, suggested that the committee members should work with the billboard owners to mitigate the impact of these rules or that the Committee form a subcommittee to address this issue. FDOT will allow Lee County DOT a variance from their rules if an agreement was reached with the sign companies on billboard clear zone deviations.The estimated cost of this conservative design is only $188,000 for the 3.5 mile road segment, only 27% of the $704,000 budgeted by the state for the landscaping this road segment.
The committee approved a motion for the design consultant to develop a more fully landscaped plan with notes that the clear zones may need tree canopies 8½ foot or higher, and the billboard locations may involve negotiation with sign owners.
On May 6th the BOCC approved the contract between the County and seven major landowners of Koreshan Boulevardproperty between US 41 and Three Oaks Parkway. This contact commits the landowners to pay for the maintenance of the median landscaping during its first year after installation, at a cost of between $30,000 and $60,000. Most of the first $30,000 installment has already been collected by the County. Therefore we expect this segment of Koreshan to be landscaped by late this year or early in 2004.
Also on May 6th the RLAC reviewed conceptual plans of typical roadway sections for Koreshan Boulevard. Future locations for streetlights have been added to the plans as another consideration in the landscape design criteria. The lights are part of a core level lighting program that the County is just beginning. Lee County DOT has agreed to provide a clear area with a 25 foot radius around the light poles for visibility and for light replacement purposes. The possibility of leaving 25 feet on only one side of the light poles was also discussed. The committee suggested leaving a 25 foot clearance on one side of each pole and maximizing the overall landscape balance without coming too near the light poles.
Further consideration of the streetlight issues and a more detailed design of the Koreshan Boulevard landscaping project are both on the RLAC's June agenda.