The ECCL is sponsoring a forum for candidates
for State Representative (75th District) and the Lee County Board
(3rd District) on Tuesday, August 10th at
in the Copperleaf at The Brooks Clubhouse. The public is invited to
attend. Please come and bring your friends and neighbors so that all are
informed before the Primary Election on August 31st.
County Commissioner Ray
Judah and his opponent, Jake Slot, will appear during the 6 to 7 p.m. period
while Ralph Livingston and Neal Noethlich, two of the three candidates for
our open State Representative seat, will discuss state issues from 7 to 8
Both sessions will be
moderated by Phil Lewis, the Editor of the Naples Daily News. Each candidate
will be given five minutes for an opening statement. These statements will
be followed by each candidate asking the other candidate one question. Then
the moderator will ask questions suggested by the audience. Then each
candidate will ask his opponent one more question followed by five minute
closing statements by each candidate.
Representatives of the Lee
County Port Authority discussed future plans for the airport with the
members of the Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL) at their meeting
on July 16th. The new Midfield Terminal will open for business
next spring. That facility will initially contain 785,000 square feet and 28
gates with provision for a larger number of gates when needed in the future.
A new parallel runway
will be constructed south of the Midfield terminal between 2010 and 2015.
That runway will not have a major impact upon noise and air pollution in
Estero because if will be used primarily for take-offs while the existing
runway will be used for landings. Due to our prevailing winds most planes
take off to the east and then turn north, thus avoiding Estero airspace.
In the meantime the
existing runway will be rehabilitated. Before the rehabilitation begins the
taxiway for the existing terminal will be converted into a temporary runway.
The airlines that are financing the Midfield terminal have insisted that the
existing terminal be demolished so that they can avoid unfair competition
from airlines that are not sharing in the financing of the Midfield
After September 15th
Estero residents will be able to quickly reach the existing terminal without
using I-75 by driving north on Ben Hill Griffin Parkway and continuing on
Treeline Drive from Alico Road up to Daniels Parkway.
The Port Authority has
implemented studies that provide the basis for noise abatement policies that
are now part of the Lee County Comprehensive Plan. Residences located within
identified sound impacted areas are therefore eligible for Federal Noise
Abatement (insulation) grants. Although aircraft movements are expected to
increase from the present 75,000 per year to 129,000 by 2020, noise levels
are not expected to increase due to reductions in engine noise.
On July 16th
Dr. Joseph Shepard, Vice President of
brought the ECCL members up to date on the University's development plans.
FGCU's Fall 2004 Enrollment is expected to total 6,300 students. Currently
there are 1,700 student housing units on campus with 800 additional
off-campus units currently under construction for Fall student occupancy.
On-campus student housing units are expected to number between 3,000 and
4,500 five years from now.
FGCU has received
commitments for $125 million in private donations during the last five
years. Many of these donations have triggered matching grants from the State
and/or the Federal Government. Two major donations have recently been
received for development of an EngineeringSchool.
Another gift of 75 acres of land just north of
Teco Arena will provide the
University with a site for several Charter Schools to be affiliated with the
School of Education.
In addition the
University has stimulated private investment by entities that need or want
to locate near such an institution. Cleveland Clinic has purchased land near
and I-75 because of its proximity to the University. Additional land along
Alico is being developed as a University linked ResearchPark.
With substantial input from Estero
residents, Lee County has completed the design of the 65 acre
Community Park, has cleared the site of exotic vegetation and last month
presented the detailed design of the first phase of the project to the EDRC.
The main entrance to the Park will be on the south side of Corkscrew Road
midway between Sandy Lane
and River Ranch Road.
The centerpiece of the Park is a 41,000 square foot Community/Recreation
Center, by far the largest ever constructed by LeeCountyParks
and Recreation. The back of the Community/Recreation building is an
amphitheater fronting on the "central lawn", a large oval capable of seating
2,000 residents for concerts and other events.
On July 27th
the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved a $10.8 million
construction contract with J. L. Wallace Inc. for Phase 1 of the Park. In
addition the BOCC approved a loan of $6.7 million from the County's General
Fund to help finance Phase 1. The other source of funding for Phase 1 comes
from Park Impact Fees paid by purchasers of new homes in Estero and the
other areas in our Impact Fee District. As a result construction of the Park
will begin about August 15th with the Groundbreaking Ceremony
scheduled for August 23rd. Construction of Phase 1 of the Park is
expected to be completed in November 2005.
In addition to the
Community/Recreation Center and all the facilities that it will contain,
Phase 1 will also include:
utilities, roads, landscaping and parking lots
first six months this year 796 housing units with a building value of $159
million were permitted in Estero. The following table shows how this
performance compares with the prior four years:
Annual Housing Units
Number of Housing Units
Building Value of Units
AverageBuilding Value Per Unit
Percentage of Single Family Units
Thus 2004 ranks fourth of
the five years in the number of housing units permitted but second in the
total building value of those units. The housing unit data in 2003 is
inflated by the large number of permitted units (240) in
The building value of
housing units permitted in Estero this year is up significantly from all
prior periods, largely because the single family share of the market has
increased so dramatically. The residential building value understates the
purchase price of each residence because it excludes the value of the
The total building value
of housing units permitted in Estero continues to exceed that of the City of
Bonita Springs. During the first six months of the year the total building
value of Estero's residential permits exceeded Bonita's by 32%. Although
commercial investment in BonitaSprings
still exceeds that of Estero, the total six month building value of all
Estero permits exceeds BonitaSprings
Corporation has a contract to purchase the 46 acre parcel on the northwest
corner of Coconut Road and US 41 with plans to construct a 208,000 square
foot super-center including a grocery store, tire-lube operation, liquor
store and a garden center. In addition the property would contain three
outlots and a gas station site.
On April 21st
Wal-Mart filed with the County a "Request for appeal of an administrative
interpretation to the Hearing Examiner" in an effort to overturn the
county's denial of Wal-Mart's Development Order. County staff has taken the
position that Wal-Mart must rezone the property if it wants to build a
superstore on this site.
The long awaited hearing
of Wal-Mart's appeal was held on July 1st. The decision of the Hearing
Examiner is expected within the next few weeks.
The hearing before Chief
Hearing Examiner Diana Parker was shortened when Wal-Mart withdrew a number
of issues from their appeal. Their stated reason for this withdrawal was
that revised plans to be submitted later by Wal-Mart to the County would
overcome the County's objections on these issues.
The issue that was argued
by attorneys for the parties, including by Matt Uhle for six Estero
communities, the citizens of four other residential communities and the
Hyatt Coconut Point Resort, involved Wal-Mart's plan to convert three retail
out-lots in the approved Master Concept Plan for the site exclusively into
parking for the Wal-Mart Superstore. Wal-Mart argued that such use was
permitted because the existing zoning provides "accessory parking" as a
permitted use on each of these parcels.
The County argued that
while that was true, such parking lots had to be accessory to a main use on
the parcel not to a use on an adjoining parcel. In addition, although
Wal-Mart wanted to limit the issues before the hearing examiner to this
narrow issue of code interpretation, the County Attorney and Matt Uhle,
though our witness David Crawford, and in his closing argument, made it
clear that the more basic point at issue was that the plan, so far presented
by Wal-Mart deviates significantly from the approved Master Concept Plan for
If the County and the
Estero communities and firms are successful, Wal-Mart will have to rezone
the property, file another Development Order that can overcome the
objections of the County as interpreted by the Hearing Examiner or appeal
the decision to the Circuit Court. If the Hearing Examiner rules against the
community and the County, either or both parties can appeal the decision to
the Circuit Court.
As reported last month Camargo Trust is the 83 acre parcel on the
northwest corner of US 41 and Williams Road.
Camargo Trust's size ranks it as Estero's fourth largest mixed use
development. The 50 acre parcel at the rear of the property will be
developed as the 258 unit Meadows of Estero residential community. Ten acres
along Williams Road
was recently developed as the Life Care Center of Estero. The remaining 23
acre commercial site along US 41 is now being called
Paradise Shoppes of
The developer of Paradise Shoppes of Estero,
The Paradise Group of Weston, Florida, is seeking approval to develop
100,000 square feet of retail on 8 outlots ranging in size from one to
eleven acres. The rezoning proposal decreases the amount of retail and the
number of uses on the site while increasing the number of outlots. The
original zoning authorized development of 300 dwelling units, 100,000 square
feet of retail space, 200,000 square feet of office space, and 105
This rezoning request was first presented to
the ECPP on June 14th. The developer returned on July 12th
for further discussion with the community. At the July meeting the
developer agreed to only one fast food restaurant and one gas/convenience
store that would probably include a car wash. The panel objected to
authorizing five drive-thru facilities as sought by the developer. Two of
the proposed out-parcel lots are narrow and would force the narrow side of
the buildings to face the US
41 frontage, thus reducing the impact of the proposed architectural
standards. The Paradise Groupís architect, Bill Fisher, suggested that the
design standards could restrict the locations of the drive-thrus to areas
away from US 41.
After considerable discussion of the proposed
uses the Panel requested that the developer furnish them with an updated
list of uses to be submitted to the County. Citizen concern was also
expressed about how future residents of The
Meadows of Estero would be
affected by noise, lighting and smells from adjacent retail developments.
Another major concern of the panel and the
community is how north bound traffic exiting on Williams Road
can be handled by the very short left turn lanes that are possible on that
road. Presently, there is room to stack only four cars in the left turn
lane onto US 41 from Williams Road.
The developer presented design standards for
the project to the Panel. The Panel indicated that they would study them and
requested an opportunity to meet with the developer within the next few
Bou-Sliman, the managing partner of the
Hampton Inn at I-75 and Immokalee Road,
presented a plan for five-story, 94 room Hampton Inn hotel on the Southwest
Corner of I-75 and Corkscrew Road.
The proposed hotel would be located on a 2 acre outlot immediately east of
Corkscrew Woodlands Drive
and behind the two remaining outlots fronting on Corkscrew Road.
The hotel would be buffered from the
Corkscrew Woodlands community by a
preserve area at the rear of the property. The developer agreed to meet and
discuss the project with Corkscrew Woodlands and
Island Club residents.
Since the zoning for the property authorizes a hotel, the developer does not
need to rezone the property but rather is seeking a Development Order. Thus
they need to present their plans to the Estero Design Review Committee next
month. If all goes as planned, construction of the Hampton Inn will begin in
November or December with completion expected about one year later.
plans of this Pelican Landing CDD were presented to the ECPP by Amy Pintus,
planner with Johnson Engineering. The maintenance facility would be located
on the north side of Coconut Road
across from the north Pelican Landing boundary. The proposed 1.5 acre
facility would be immediately adjacent to several homes in the
Acres residential community.
The Panel expressed concerns about the
maintenance facility's close proximity to existing and proposed single
family homes and its impact on the appearance of Coconut Road,
the entrance to the Hyatt Coconut Point Resort and Spa. Since the gates to
the maintenance yard will be open from
to to permit easy entrance
and exit of the District's equipment, they will not have the intended effect
on the appearance of the facility. It was suggested that large trees and
landscaping could help. In addition it was suggested that the gate be moved
back from the road so that trucks and equipment entering the facility would
not obstruct traffic and the gate could be closed except when equipment and
trucks were entering or leaving the property.
On July 14th Toll
Brothers presented their newest Estero residential community to the Estero
Design Review Committee (EDRC). The Preserve is a 492 unit single family
community located on the north side of Estero Parkway
midway between US 41 and Three Oaks Parkway.
Homes in the Preserve will range in size from 1,300 to 2.400 square feet and
from $190,000 to $300,000 in price. The gateway and frontage along Estero Parkway
will be similar to Toll Brothers' Belle Lago community immediately to the
west. Thus this segment of Estero Parkway
will be lined on both sides by large landscaped berms in front of attractive
Toll Brothers has included in an existing
Development Order plans for closing two Estero Parkway median openings (with
a third to follow next year) so that the County installed median landscaping
can be extended into these areas. Levitt and Sons, the developer of The
Cascades on the other side of Estero Parkway,
have agreed to share the cost of closing these median openings with Toll
U.S. Homes representatives also presented
their new Estero project to the EDRC onJuly 14th. Osprey
Cove is a 328 unit multi-family residential community located on 30 acres
just west of Bella Lago and just east of the proposed Estero Parkway
Wal-Mart. The proposed two, three and four story buildings will contain
units ranging in size from 1,200 to 1,500 square feet and from $170,000 to
$260,000 in price. A large preserve area is located in front to the
buildings along Estero Parkway.
Grand Opening for this 258 unit multifamily project, located in front of
Pelican Sound, was held on July 17th and 18th. Two
coach home designs are now being offered ranging in size from 2,000 square
feet to nearly 2,900 square feet. Prices for the units begin in the upper
$200,000. The community will be constructed between the commercial property
included in Paradise Shoppes (see article above) and