During the first ten months of 2007 an estimated 60,300 persons visited this
site to learn about Estero. During the same period last year less than
two-thirds as many visitors, about 37,400, thus 2007 have seen an increase of
nearly 61% from year to year.
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 November 13th the ECCL Annexation and Incorporation Committee met for the
second time to discuss how the ECCL should address the two mile buffer issue
before the Local Legislative Delegation when they meet on November 29th. After
considerable discussion the Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the
entire ECCL membership approve the following motion at their meeting on November
"MOTION TO WAIVE THE TWO-MILE BUFFER ZONE
A two-mile Buffer Zone from the border of the City of Bonita Springs northward
to Williams Road prevents the citizens of this area of Estero from participating
in the determination of how they will be governed, either as an unincorporated
area or a part of a new municipality.
Approximately 7,000 residences and 4,500 registered Florida voters are located
within this Buffer Zone. Florida citizens in the Buffer Zone are
disenfranchised from their right to vote on governance options, a right that is
enjoyed by all the other voters in Estero. The residents of the Buffer
Zone have a right to equal treatment with the residents of other parts of
Estero. The residents of the Buffer Zone deserve to know whether they will be
able to join with the other residents of Estero should they choose to apply for
The City of Bonita Springs has had the opportunity to annex all or part of the
Buffer Zone since December 31, 2004 and has taken no action. A survey of
all the registered voters of the Buffer Zone in February, 2005 found that 83% of
the respondents did not want the two-mile area in which they reside to be
annexed by the city of Bonita Springs.
Therefore, I move that the Estero Council of Community Leaders petition the
Local Legislative Delegation to waive the requirement of the two-mile Buffer
Zone for incorporation from the northern boundary of the City of Bonita Springs
if the City of Bonita Springs has not annexed this area or renounced its
intention to annex this area by no later than December 31, 2009.
Presented to: Estero Council of
November 16, 2007
Delegate of Pelican Sound Golf and River Club”
On November 16th the ECCL voted unanimously to approve this motion. The motion
was deemed by the membership to be a “compromise” proposal. The City of Bonita
Springs had been denied the opportunity to annex land in the Estero portion of
their two mile buffer for 5 years by a provision added to its charter by the
Local Legislative Delegation. In return the proposal would provide the City an
equal period, 5 years, during which it could attempt to annex adjacent land
within the two mile buffer, prior to nay effort by groups in Estero to
incorporate the community.
As a result of this action the Chairman of the ECCL presented this proposal to
the Local Legislative Delegation on November 29th. The City of Bonita Springs
spoke in favor of indefinite extension of the two mile buffer. Senator Burt
Saunders, a long time member of the delegation, expressed the opinion that the
“compromise proposal” was beyond their authority and no action was taken by the
On the following day, the Estero leadership met for the sixth time in the last
two years with the Bonita Springs City Council to discuss issues of common
concern. The two community’s differences about the two mile buffer were
discussed at length. The two communities agreed to disagree about the duration
of the two mile buffer, but took the following positions:
The City of Bonita Springs
indicated that they have no plans for attempting to annex any land within the
Estero portion of the two mile buffer;
The Estero leaders emphasized
that although two of the leaders of Vote Estero are active members of ECCL,
representing their communities, Vote Estero is a completely independent
The Estero leaders indicated
that they would not participate in any incorporation effort except to ensure
that if Vote Estero were to do so the ECCL would review their information for
accuracy and completeness so that the residents of Estero were not misled
regarding this complex issue.
Several participants indicated that the “status quo” would continue until such
time as the City of Bonita Springs and the Estero Leadership group agreed to a
At the conclusion of the September 28th MPO meeting, Commissioner Ray Judah
asked representatives of ECCL and the Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce to meet
with him to explore ways to keep the $10 million earmark in South Lee County,
preferably for the Bonita Beach Road/I-75 interchange.
The first meeting between these parties extensively discussed how those in
attendance could support a common position regarding the use of the $10 million.
One of the starting points was Commissioner Judah’s position at the MPO to
allocate $1 million of the $10 million to a study of the Corkscrew Road to
Bonita Beach Road corridor, including keeping the Coconut Road Interchange in
the 2030 plan for the time being while the Congress works its will and the MPO’s
traffic model is updated. The second part of this alternative would be to
support using the remainder of the $10 million on the design of the Bonita Beach
Road interchange, assuming that the corridor study concluded it was the highest
There was a consensus that the Coconut Road interchange could remain as an
unfunded part of the MPO’s 2030 Long-range Plan, until some or all of the
corridor study, the County DR/GR study, or Congressional reallocation of the $10
This meeting concluded with a consensus that the Southwest Florida Expressway
Authority’s proposal for 10 laning I-75 with six toll lanes between either
Immokalee Road or the Lee County line and the Airport is essential for the early
completion of the group’s top priorities, reconstruction of the Bonita Beach and
Corkscrew Road Interchanges with I-75. This corridor is to be studied by the
Expressway Authority, thus it was decided that the group should meet with the
Authority before determining if some of the earmarked money should be allocated
to a corridor study, and if so, with or without the Expressway Authority.
The ECCL and the Bonita Chamber met a second time on November 14th along with
Bill Barton, Chairman of the Expressway Authority, Don Scott, Executive Director
of the Lee MPO, Dave Loveland of Lee DOT, Debbie Tower of FDOT, Kris Cella
consultant to the Expressway Authority, and Amy Davies, formerly of Lee County
DOT, and now the SWFEA traffic consultant.
After Chairman Barton provided a status report on the 10 laning project,
extensive questions and answers, and considerable discussion, a consensus
developed from the non-government participants that no real solution to the
problems associated with the Bonita Beach Road interchange and Corkscrew Road
interchanges with I-75 would be possible in the foreseeable future unless they
were constructed as part of the Expressway Authority’s 10 laning project.
The next significant step that the Authority needs to take to move the project
along and to provide detailed and dependable answers to the concerns of the
project’s detractors is an “investment grade traffic and revenue study”.
Such a study would include sufficient detail to determine the marketability of
the amount of revenue bonds (whether issued by a public body, private entity or
both) needed to construction of the 10 laning project.
The cost of the Study is estimated to be less than $1 million, an amount not
presently available to the Expressway Authority. If the MPO, FDOT and Expressway
Authority can support allocation of these funds from the $10 million earmark, it
could expedite the 10 lane project by 6-9 months. This study is needed in order
to answer the critics of the project who argue that the project is neither
needed nor financially feasible.
In conclusion, two organizations, convened by a public official, who had
bitterly opposed each other concerning the Coconut Road Interchange for about
two years and after the September 28, 2007 MPO meeting found common ground by
reaching consensus they should work with the Expressway Authority in order to
expeditiously address their common goals of improving the Bonita Beach I-75
Interchange and the Corkscrew I-75 Interchange by supporting the use of $1
million of the $10 million earmark to accelerate the Expressway Authority’s
“investment grade traffic and revenue study” while allocating the remainder of
the $10 million to “the widening and improvement of I-75” within the first phase
of the 10 laning corridor identified by the Expressway Authority.
This proposal was discussed at length at the quarterly Joint meeting between the
Bonita Springs City Council and the ECCL on November 30th. Although not all
participants were prepared to commit to the approach, considerable support was
expressed by both groups of participants. John Spear, Councilman-elect of the
City of Bonita Springs, was most helpful throughout the whole process. Amy
Davies and Kris Cella, Consultants to the Expressway Authority provided valuable
information at this meeting as well.
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. 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 wetlands,
A County comprehensive plan 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.
Two other matters that has some potential for improving the availability of
clean drinking water are the pending amendment to the County’s Wellfield
Protection Ordinance, a statute adopted by the County in 1989 but largely
unaltered since that time, and a Fertilizer Ordinance.
The following sections detail some of the recent activities associated with
these threats and actions.
On October 23rd the BOCC conducted their first public hearing on the two
moratorium ordinances that were tentatively adopted on September 18th… one
affecting changes in the Lee County Comprehensive Plan for properties within the
and the second impacting DR/GR rezoning applications, mainly for
new mines. Much
testimony was heard on both sides of the issues. The Board took no action on
either matter but some of their comments indicated that they might consider
strengthening the Comp Plan moratorium to include the one application that they
had previously excluded.
The second and final Hearing on these ordinances has been rescheduled for
December 4th. If you are concerned about the truck traffic and the dirt, noise,
pollution and accidents all these mines would bring to Estero’s roadways you
should attend this meeting and speak out (see the calendar above for the time
On September 18th the BOCC voted unanimously to approve the following rezoning
moratorium for a period of one year: “Do not accept new rezoning applications
and do not process the ones that are already submitted but insufficient”.
There are three pending mine applications in the County’s files that are
sufficient. They are:
The Estero Group (see status below)
Ft. Myers Harper Mine, and
The Ginn proposal.
Six additional rezoning applications for mining are insufficient and therefore
will be delayed for one year. According to Tim Jones, County Land Use attorney,
such moratoriums could exceed one year for mining applications that don’t seek
authority to mine aggregate products, rock and sand.
In addition the BOCC voted to limit the Comprehensive Plan moratorium to one
year and exclude “The Fountains” project from the moratorium. The Board could
consider extending this moratorium after one year, except as it relates to
On October 26th the Lee County Contracts Department posted a Request for
Qualifications (RFQ) for a “Comprehensive Study of the Lee County Southeastern
Density Reduction/ Groundwater Resource (DR/GR) Area.” The Department’s website
indicates that the RFQ is for:
“SCOPE OF WORK: The Lee County Florida Board of County Commissioners is
soliciting Requests for Qualifications from a qualified consultant to conduct a
Comprehensive Study for a portion of the unincorporated county known as the
Southeastern Lee County Density Reduction/Groundwater Resource (DR/GR) Area.
The Lee County Commission desires a comprehensive plan that will properly manage
the numerous resources and adequately address conflicts between the allowable
uses in the area.”
Three firms or groups responded to the County prior to the November 16th
deadline. The three competitors are: The Image Network headed by Dover, Kohl &
Partners from Coral Gables; MSCW, Inc. from Orlando and Golder Associates, Inc.
from Tampa. Telephone interviews were scheduled for Thursday, November 29th.
County staff will rank the three firms and the BOCC will make the final
selection. To monitor the selection process see the following webpage
Legislation enacted earlier this year established a “Strategic Aggregates Review
Task Force” to meet throughout the state in order to develop some legislation
that will insure that Florida has an adequate supply of this material for
road-building and other purposes. The Task Force appointments have recently been
made and the first of four Task Force meetings has been scheduled for December
18-20 in Tampa.
On November 16th several ECCL members and other groups concerned about mining in
the DR/GR met with Richard Grosso, a member of the Task Force, to discuss our
concerns and to provide him with a tour of the DR/GR, its existing mines and the
many proposed mine sites.
Residents of Estero who are concerned about the impact of
mining on our
community are encouraged to attend this meeting on December 18th and 19th. Both
days will be very educational and there will be an opportunity for public input
on the afternoon of the 19th. A second opportunity for public input will be at a
meeting of the Task Force in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area on January 8-10
Apparently in response to a Federal Court decision having some potential for
limiting aggregate mining in the Lake Belt mining area of Miami-Dade County, the
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) hired some geological consultants to
study the current and future supply of aggregate for road-building and other
purposes throughout the state of Florida. The consultants submitted their report
to the Department in March 2007.
This report became the rallying cry for the Florida legislature to consider
legislation that would have transferred most approvals for aggregate mining from
Counties and Municipalities to the State. This version of the legislation failed
but the legislature did pass legislation, approved by Gov. Crist, that limits
all local government moratoriums on aggregate mining to one year and established
a Strategic Aggregates Task Force to study the issue and make a recommendation
to the State prior to the 2008 legislative session.
The following summary of the report’s assessment of the Lee County aggregate
supply was distributed to the County Commissioners in time for the October 23rd
Hearing on the pending Moratorium Ordinances:
“The Strategic Aggregates Study completed by the natural resource consulting
firm, Lampl Herbert Consultants, for FDOT in March 2007 is consistently cited as
the reason why the Florida Legislature should enact legislation limiting the
ability of local governments throughout Florida to authorize and regulate rock
mining within their boundaries.
While this report paid scant attention to natural resource and environmental
protection….the reasons why communities and local governments closely reviewed
all rock mining applications, the geologically certified study provides
considerable evidence that Lee and Collier Counties are not the long-term answer
to FDOT’s aggregate needs should Lake Belt aggregate production be reduced.
In this regard the studies found:
Except for the Rinker Mining Complex on Alico Road the other Lee County mines do
not produce the high quality “certified aggregate” that FDOT and other road
“With the exceptions of a few mines 40 miles north of Tampa and one in Fort
Myers, rock found in most mines throughout the rest of Florida is too soft or
otherwise unsuitable for aggregate applications.”
“The Rinker Mine is significant for this area because it is able to produce
certified aggregates for FDOT use while other mines produce limerock and some
commercial aggregates. The original planners for the Rinker Mine located it in
an area of unusually hard rock within the Tamiami Limestone. For the most part,
the Tamiami Limestone is soft throughout its range, and the only crushed stone
materials that can be made from this resource are limerock and fill.”
They further state that for the most part Tamiami Limestone….that which is in
Lee and Collier Counties… is soft throughout its range…thus is only good for
limerock and fill.
“The limestone resources in Collier and Lee Counties are in the Tamiami
Limestone which is generally softer and less durable than the Miami Limestone
found in the Lake Belt. Hard and durable resources have been found and exploited
in both counties; however, but the available reserves are dwindling and mine
sites may be expected to be restricted by land use and environmental plans. “
Thus Lee and Collier Counties are not the answer to FDOT and the state’s
problems, if indeed, the Lake Belt mines cannot continue to produce at their
On the other hand two central and northern Florida limerock “Resource Areas”
contain areas of hard limerock that, if developed into megamines, could, over
time, replace any lost FDOT quality aggregate production in the Lake Belt area.
Hernando, Sumter and Citrus County Resource Areas
The Report states: “The Hernando, Sumter, and Citrus County area has reserves of
durable rock from the Suwannee, Ocala and Avon Park Limestone formations…
“Several regional supply mines are operating in this area with truck hauling to
the Orlando and Tampa markets. However, with rail improvements, highly efficient
mega-mines could be developed in the next several decades.”
The Taylor and Dixie County Resource Area
The Report states: “This area has high potential as a limestone resource area
because of the presence of hard rock and the rural and undeveloped character of
“The Florida Geological Survey, Department of Environmental Protection, in
partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey will be mapping this area over the
next two years…
“If the reserves are present in this area, then a “Lake Belt North” scenario
could be developed to include several mega-mines.”…
“Taylor County is one of the few places in Florida with mineral resources that
are potentially of comparable quality to the Lake Belt and has deposits with
characteristics making them viable for large scale, highly efficient
We would urge Lee County and other local officials to urge FDOT and the
Governor’s Aggregate Task Force to focus on planning for the areas of the state
with great potential for high quality aggregate and on upgrading our port and
rail facilities so that more quality aggregate can be imported rather than
usurping the responsibility of all Florida local governments regarding this
Rural Land Planning Study, financed by a grant from the Elizabeth Ordway
Dunn Foundation, was transmitted to the Board of County Commissioners on
November 15th along with the following letter:
We are proud to present you with this important new report on the future of Lee
County’s DR/GR lands: “Toward a Greener Lee: Effective Planning
Alternative for Rural Lee County.”
This report provides the County Commission and staff with the following
A history of Lee County’s DR/GR area since
its origins in 1998.
A concise summary of the rural land use
planning efforts of Sarasota, St. Lucie, Martin, and Collier Counties, all of
whom have undertaken major rural land use planning efforts since the year 2000.
Specific policy questions that Lee County
should consider in the coming year, along with planning options that staff and
the Board can use in developing Lee County's approach to guiding the future of
the DR/GR area and other rural lands.
This report is the result of several months’ effort by author Bill Spikowski,
the Estero Community Improvement Foundation, and a coalition of other sponsors
including the Responsible Growth Management Coalition, The Conservancy of
Southwest Florida, The Brooks Concerned Citizens, the Estero Civic Association,
and the Corkscrew Rural Community. This report was financed by a grant from the
Elizabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation.
We hope that all Commissioners and county staff members will find this report to
be useful and timely as you prepare to tackle this most important issue.
We would welcome the opportunity to present its most essential points to a
meeting of the County Commission to further your ongoing dialog about the future
of DR/GR lands.”
This excellent report may be reviewed at the following website
http://www.spikowski.com/GreenerLee.pdf . If you like what you see, please
urge the Board of County Commissioners to direct County staff to pursue its
On January 7th at 3 p.m. the Lee County Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson will
participate in a discussion of the Property Tax Changes approved by the Florida
Legislature for consideration by all registered Florida voters at the
Presidential Primary Election to be held on Tuesday, January 29, 2008. The
proposal will impact all property owners, homesteaders, snowbirds and
businesses, often in very different ways.
The presentation is open to all Estero residents and will be held at the Shadow
Wood Country Club in the Shadow Wood community of The Brooks. All persons
planning to attend are asked to register in advance (including the number of
attendees) by emailing Nick Batos at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling him at 948-3741. If you call please leave you
phone number in case Nick needs to get back to you. Seating is limited so we
would urge you to register early if you are planning to attend.
Improving the ability of all the residents of Estero to communicate in a timely
manner with the public officials who serve us is essential to our ability to get
things done for the community. As an unincorporated area of Lee County these
communication are most often directed to the Board of County Commissioners.
Sometimes those messages need to reach the Lee Metropolitan Planning
Organization (transportation planning); Florida Department of Transportation
(state roads); South Florida Water Management District (drainage; flooding;
sprinkling); the State Legislature; our Federal Congressmen and/or the Governor.
Nick Batos and the Brooks Concerned Citizens have developed a website for use by
all Estero residential communities and residents that will make it very easy for
each of us to understand the issue and to express our point of view by email to
the governmental decision-makers on a timely basis.
For each decision the website contains some background information, a sample
letter that can be amended by the sender and with a simple click of a button
will send personalized emails to each of the decision-makers. The system also
will provide us feedback about how many emails have been sent by residents of
each Estero residential community.
Please take a few minutes to register on the site
http://www.brooksconcernedcitizens.com/ and review its present contents. If
you want to suggest other issues or provide additional content follow the
directions provided below.
Secondly, please complete a brief survey designed to improve the effectiveness
of the site by clicking on the “Survey” button on the lower left hand side of
the “Current Issues” page.
This website can also be accessed through the Estero community website at
http://www.esterofl.org/new/ . Thanks
for your participation and help…spending a few minutes in support of issues of
importance to Estero will have a far larger impact than you would expect.
Registration is now open and will stay open until December 31st when it closes
to allow the Supervisor of Elections time to prepare the voting lists for the
Presidential Preference Primary on January 29, 2008.
Any person at least 18 years of age, who is a citizen of the United States and a
permanent resident of Florida and of the county where he wishes to register, is
eligible to register with the Supervisor of Elections when the registration
books are open. Once registered, if you vote at least once every four years,
your registration is active and permanent.
Forms may be obtained at the Lee County Supervisor of Elections satellite office
at 24951 Old US 41 Suite 10, Bonita Springs. This office is open from 8:30 AM to
5:00 PM Monday through Friday. It is located on the east side of Old 41 about
two blocks south of the US 41/Old 41 intersection…just north of the railroad
Registration forms can also be obtained at public libraries, Chamber of
Commerce, Dept of Motor Vehicles, AAA Motor Club sites throughout the county.
Information on registration forms may be obtained by calling (239) 533-8683.
October building permits of all types continued at a slow pace, especially
The value of
commercial buildings permitted in Estero during October totaled $7.3
million. Nonetheless during the first ten months of 2007 Estero’s total
commercial permits are valued at $152.5 million. Estero’s commercial permits
during all of 2006 totaled $184.7 million. (All figures are exclusive of the
underlying land). With two months to go 2007 could approach the record set last
year for the value of commercial development permits in Estero.
The major projects that contributed to the ten month total are:
During October only 9 housing units with a value of $2.57 million were permitted
in Estero. Year to date 416 housing units with a value, exclusive of land, of
$116.9 million have been issued. This slowdown in construction of new homes
should help reduce the inventory of unsold new homes constructed in Estero in
2005 and 2006.
The following table shows how the first ten 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 are the 2007 total housing units below all prior years, they total
only 31% of the quantity during the first ten months of 2002, the season
immediately following the tragedy of 9/11/2001 and the third lowest year.
In spite of the decline in the number of housing units permitted thus far this
year, the average building value, excluding the land beneath it, continues to
increase, up 8% from the prior high set last year and more than double (up 101%)
the average in 2000, in spite of a slight decline in the share of more expensive
single family homes
As the Table above indicates commercial construction in Estero has continued
unabated in spite of the residential construction slowdown. At present there are
at least 36 commercial projects now under construction in Estero. They are the
following types of projects:
· Twelve (12) office buildings
· Eleven (11) retail buildings
· Six (6) shopping centers, and
· Seven (7) sites being prepared
The table above lists all of these projects and their current status.
The University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR)
estimates the population of all Florida municipalities and counties as of April
1 each year so that state funding for local governments are apportioned fairly
between censuses. BEBR does not make an annual estimate for Estero because
Estero is not a municipality, but they have shared with us their procedures so
that we could make comparable estimates.
Using their methodology Estero's permanent (full time) population is determined
by adding the April 2000 population to the product of the following
multiplication: the number of new housing units built during the intervening
year(s) times the occupancy rate times the average persons per household.
The 2000 census found that Estero contained 2,737 seasonal housing units, or
37.3% of all housing units. Assuming that Estero's snowbird households are the
same size as its full time households (2.06 persons/household), Estero's
seasonal population in April 2000 was 5,638. This assumption is probably too
high for seasonal households but the permanent household value is probably low,
thus the total population is largely unaffected. Estero's current snowbird
population is estimated by adding 5,638 to the product of the number of new
residential units built by seasonal residents during the intervening years times
the average persons per household.
Since 2005 the proportion of occupied housing units has undoubtedly declined as
a result of widespread speculative purchases of new housing units in Estero,
throughout southwest Florida and the country. Thus this estimation procedure, no
doubt, temporarily overestimates the population of Estero. Now that the number
of new housing permits has declined greatly and as the inventory of vacant new
housing units gets absorbed, this error will decline.
Using this methodology Estero's population has increased by 187% during the last
six years and nine months.