During January about 8,400 persons visited this site to learn about
During the same period in 2007 only about 6,600 visited the site,
thus our website traffic increased by nearly 27% year to year.
The peak day in January saw 415 visited this site up from 275 in
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)
On Monday, March 3rd, the Estero Historical Society will hold its
annual “High Tea” at the Embassy Suites, 10450 Corkscrew Road in Estero.
The event will feature a raffle of a $500 wardrobe from Dillard’s at
Coconut Point along with other gifts. Tickets are available for $35 by
calling Eileen Galvin at 947-4471.
Bonita Community Health Center installed a large
monument sign that is inconsistent with Estero’s unique sign
requirements contained in Chapter 33 of the Lee Land Development Code
along US 41 in front of the facility. The Estero Community Planning
Panel (ECPP) and the Estero Design Review Committee (EDRC) have met with
the new Manager of this facility. The Community Health Center is jointly
owned by Lee Memorial Health Care System and Naples Community Health
Joe McHarris of the EDRC has prepared a “pro-bono” redesign of the sign
that would permit the Center owners to adapt the existing sign with a
minimum of additional expense so that it complies with the County Code
and is compatible with all the other signs in Estero that have been
installed since our codes became effective.
The sign was installed pursuant to a permit issued by Lee County’s
signage staff. In our opinion this staff has never rigidly enforced the
Estero signage standards even though they were intensively consulted in
the development of those standards. We would urge Lee Memorial and NCH
to quickly approve modification of the sign so that it is satisfactory
to the Estero planning and appearance committees and the desires of the
At the February 5th meeting of the County’s Roadway Landscape
Advisory Committee Pat Moore, staff for the Committee, raised the issue
of landscaping Via Coconut Point between Corkscrew Road and Pelican
Colony Road, a distance of about three miles. Moore indicated that the
road was not landscaped because it is a “major collector” and not an
“arterial” roadway. He asked the Committee if they want to add the road
to its landscape ranking list.
Al O’Donnell, Committee Chairman and an Estero Landscape firm owner,
indicated that the developers of
Coconut Point want an enhanced level of
landscaping on this roadway and that he had advised them to partner with
the County to ensure at least “core” level landscaping. In the end the
Committee agreed that this segment of Via Coconut Point should be added
to the list so that it can be evaluated and ranked.
According to information released in February by Lee County several
areas of Estero are "hot spots" for vehicle crashes.
Corkscrew Road from US 41 to Ben Hill Griffin had 172 "reported" vehicle
crashes in 2007. This road segment is only about 4 miles long and
also contains the I-75 north/south interchange. The interchange
had a reported 44 crashes making it #18 on the Lee County list of the
most frequent crash sites while Bonita Beach Road and I-75 was #33 on
A second major area of concern is Coconut Road and its intersections
with US 41 and a short distance away, Health Care Way/Via Villagio.
The combined intersections had 44 reported crashes in 2007. Via Villagio
is a new road just opened in the past year. Combining these two
crash sites would rank the area in a tie for #18 on the County’s list.
At a recent meeting the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT),
Lee County and Wal-Mart informally agreed upon a strategy for
the segment between Corkscrew Road and San Carlos Park. This segment is
the only segment of US 41 between Ft. Myers and Naples that has not been
six-laned. The strategy would permit the widening about 18 months prior
to the present budgeted period 2010-2011, which begins on July 1, 2010.
The parties agreed to complete the project in one segment between San
Carlos Park and Corkscrew Road, rather than two segments as has been
suggested over the last year. FDOT is committed to completing all the
pre-construction tasks by late this year or early 2009. In addition the
County will investigate using its tax-exempt credit to advance the
funding for the project to an early 2009 start. Wal-Mart would be
responsible for paying the interest on the County financing.
On February 15th Amy Davies, a consultant to the Southwest Florida
Expressway Authority (SWFEA) gave an update on the Authority’s progress
to the members of the Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL).
At this time data gathering is taking place for an investment grade
traffic and revenue study. Information is being compiled in order to
evaluate the feasibility of many
I-75 widening alternatives, including 8
or 10 lanes with four or six tolled lanes and a rail or bus rapid
transit system in the center or moving it to one side of the road,
bringing costs down 40 to 50%. The lower cost is the result of not
having to re-adjust the interchanges if the expansion is in the middle.
This would also mean expanding the interstate lanes in the median
instead of on the outside.
Ms. Davies also reported about the Federal transportation finance
picture as determined by the National Surface Transportation Policy and
Revenue Study Commission which recently released their preliminary
report. The Commission concluded that the country needs to invest at
least $225 billion per year to maintain and upgrade the existing surface
transportation system. Right now only $68 billion is being spent
annually. One option they included in their recommendations is for a 40
cent per gallon increase in the gasoline tax phased in over several
Old ways of funding road building are not working as well as in the
past. Some vehicles are becoming more fuel efficient and people are
driving less because of the high prices of gasoline, thus gas taxes
revenues are declining. In addition road impact fees the county receives
from new construction are down because of the housing market slowdown.
New ways need to be found to fund surface transportation and tolls is
one likely way.
The skies over parts of Estero and Bonita Springs are a lot noisier
thanks to the Southwest Florida International Airport (SWFIA) directing
commercial airline traffic over our area. The primary approach
path from the north is generally over Fort Myers Beach but the growth in
flights during the tourist season is causing the airport to use
additional corridors to space traffic arriving and departing from the
SWFIA has a number of options but the northern most flight path of SW
Corridor A10 (over The Brooks and several Estero communities north and
northeast of it) is the most efficient for commercial aircraft to use
during heavy traffic periods. As aircraft flights and noise have
increased, so have complaints from the affected areas. Recently,
the flurry of complaints appears to have brought a decrease in flights
over our area but as complaints drop, past experience has proven that
flights and noise return.
Wind and weather dictate which end of the runway will be used and from
which direction aircraft will land and depart. However, the
moderate weather patterns of Southwest Florida allow SWFIA considerable
discretion to choose which of the flight paths are used in directing
flights for landing and takeoff.
There are always tradeoffs. Quiet skies over Bonita and Estero
residential neighborhoods may require commercial aircraft to fly further
south to approach the runway over less populated areas. It’s up to our
airport authority to ensure that the whine of aircraft overhead does not
wake us in the morning, stop our conversations at poolside, or drown out
nature’s sounds during a quiet walk.
Keep your eye on the sky. It’s up to each of us to let SWFIA and
the Board of Port Commissioners (the County Commissioners) know that
with all the other distractions of urban life, airline noise is not
another we want to add to our lives.
On February 4th the BOCC heard presentations by the South Florida
Water Management District (SFWMD) and The Conservancy and discussed what
position the County should take regarding the District’s desire to have
FDOT install 5 sixty-inch culverts under I-75 when it six-lanes the road
without studying if they are needed or would cause downstream flooding.
On the following day the BOCC voted to support the Estero Community and
The Conservancy and direct the County attorney to try to negotiate these
terms (see the list below) with the SFWMD prior to their February 14th
On February 14th a group of residents from The Brooks and other Estero
communities took a bus to West Palm Beach to attend and testify at the
Governing Board meeting of the South Florida Water Management District
concerning the proposed new culverts under I-75.
After months of negotiating the Brooks Concerned Citizens, with the help
of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the Lee County Commissions,
finally got the water district to agree not to build any culverts until
a new study proves that they are needed and can be installed safely
1. Dewatering the DR/GR wetlands to our East
2. Degrading the quality of water coming into the Brooks
(monitoring our water
coming West from the East of I-75) and traveling on to Estero Bay
3. Endangering the adjacent Lee County well fields (Our
source of drinking water)
4. Endangering the lives and property of any of the
downstream residents from
The water district has agreed to undertake a comprehensive study, with
Lee County as an equal partner that will update the 1998 South Lee
County Watershed Plan. This will allow all interested parties, including
the City of Bonita Springs, to determine the best way to handle flood
waters in our area, and where and how the waters should be directed to
reduce flood dangers throughout South Lee County.
The only portion of the final compromise that was not what we wanted is
a clause that requires the study to be completed within 15 months or the
District has the right to install the 5 culverts and operate 3 of them.
The County feels that the study will be completed and approved by that
time thus removing any threat of an ill-conceived installation.
The Estero Community groups and the Conservancy will be monitoring the
progress of the study so that it is completed on time. We want to thank
all Estero residents who sent nearly 1,000 e-mails to the County
Commissioners and the SFWMD Board, the 125 Brooks residents who attended
the meeting of the Lee County Commissioners and the 30 or more who
attended the SFWMD Governing Board meeting in Palm Beach.
Several important trends emerge from a statewide review of mining
• General regulations applying to all types of mining are being replaced
by regulations and fees that recognize specific classes and types of
• Excavation by unit or cell is being required, as opposed to one large
lake, as a means to regulate the pace and expansion of mining activity
while allowing phased-in reclamation.
• Phased-in or “rolling” reclamation plans are required to allow
completed phases to be reclaimed while mining continues in other areas.
• Deadlines for completion of reclamation activity are being imposed and
• Specific fees and policies are being approved to ensure that damage to
roads and natural features are addressed.”
A tour of the mining area by the Ad Hoc Committee was postponed to
February 27, a rain date. County staff planned the tour with great
detail including a tour of a mine. The following website contains the
background information provided the committee prior to the tour…
Hall Planning and Analysis will do the Traffic Analysis
Samuel E. Poole III, Berger Singerman will do the Legal Analysis
Spikowski Planning Associates will do the comprehensive planning
Kevin L. Erwin Consulting Ecologist is the principal ecologistbr>
DHI Water & Environment will do the integrated surface & groundwater
David Douglas Associates will do the truck traffic impact analysis.
ThThe Schedule for the Dr/GR planning effort presented to the Ad Hoc
Committee is as follows:
The Dover Kohl & Partners website provides more
background on the consultants at
www.doverkohl.cofn/. The Ad Hoc Committee meetings are held in
the 1st floor conference room of the Community Development building, 1500 Monroe Street
in downtown Fort Myers
the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. These meetings are open
to the public.
“Florida lacks a short or long-term
comprehensive vision which addresses demand and supply (i.e. where are
the deposit reserves? And where will these materials be
needed as the state continues to grow?):
A consensus recommendation addressing this concern
is as follows:
“Development of the Strategic Aggregate Resource Assessment
funded jointly by the FDOT and the industry
Encourage the use of recycled and reused construction
Investigate and encourage the use of alternative material
substitutions for construction aggregate materials”
Other consensus recommendations are:
“State and local government should protect existing
mines from the encroachment of incompatible land uses and, in
consideration of the infrastructure investment associated
with these, plan for their expansion.
Future procedures for siting and permitting of
mines should be based on earlier/more interagency coordination.
Provide FDOT statutory
authority to enter into P3 partnerships for development of rail and
sources for improvement of rail and port facilities
Aggregate resource counties
should be offered incentives and given priority as to transportation
Many of the non-consensus recommendations would
greatly reduce local control over mining approvals and regulations and
reduce the environmental protections afforded these areas by the
Recently Senator Bennett introduced SB 2406. This
bill would prohibit local governments from enacting or enforcing any
ordinance, resolution, regulation, rule, policy, or other action that
prohibits or prevents the construction or operation of a limestone mine
on lands where mining is a permissible use or on lands zoned or
classified as mining lands on or after March 1, 2007. It also provides
an expedited permitting process for environmental resource permits that
are issued by the Department of Environmental Protection.”
Kevin Hill will be monitoring the legislative
response to the Strategic Aggregates Review Task Force throughout the
2008 legislative session which starts on March 4th and continues until
early May. The Brooks Concerned Citizens web site will monitor this
issue and make it easy for Estero residents to communicate with the
legislators and Governor Crist on this and other important issues
affecting Estero this year. Register on this website and review its
information on this and other issues so you can participate in this
program during the legislative session…see the site at
During January only 9 housing units with a value of
$2.1 million were permitted in Estero. This slowdown in construction of
new homes should help reduce the inventory of unsold new homes
constructed in Estero during 2005 when 2,833 units were permitted.
The following table shows how 2008 compares with
the prior eight years:
Building Value of Units
Value Per Unit
Percentage of Single
Not only are the 2008 total housing units far below
all prior years, they equal only 10% of the quantity during 2002, the
season immediately following the tragedy of 9/11/2001.
On the other hand the average building value,
excluding the land beneath it, continues to increase, up 25% from the
prior high set last year and almost double (up 95%) the average in 2000,
in spite of a slight decline in the share of more expensive single
Permitted CommercialBuilding Values Continue Slow Increase in
January building permits of all types continued at a very slow pace.
The value of commercial
buildings permitted in Estero during January totaled $3 million.
Year to Date
As the above table indicates Estero commercial development started to
expand rapidly in 2004 and peaked during 2006 with a total of $184.7
million. (All figures are exclusive of the underlying land).
Nonetheless, 2007 was still Estero’s second highest commercial
development year, far ahead of the third place year, 2005, with $111
During January the major projects that contributed to the year to
date total are: