requested the Estero Design Review Committee (EDRC) to schedule a
hearing for a second Wal-Mart superstore in Estero at the next
meeting of the EDRC at
on Wednesday, February 11th at the Estero Country Club in
Proposed Superstore would be located on the northwest corner of US
41 and Coconut Road,
only 3.7 miles from Wal-Mart's first proposed store at US 41 and
The 1998 zoning
on this 46 acre property permits such a store to be built without
the need for any zoning changes. Thus Wal-Mart is able to bypass the
Estero Community Planning Panel, which conducts local public
meetings on all zoning matters.
Since the Board
of County Commissioners has not yet approved our draft US 41 Overlay
changes to the Lee County Land Development Code, the appearance
standards that apply to all Corkscrew Roadprojects do not apply to this location. The Estero "Big Box
Standards" also have not yet been approved by the BOCC and therefore
are not enforceable on this project.
On the other
hand, "Concurrency Certificates" are issued in conjunction with
Development Orders. Concurrency Certificates are issued by the
County only after the road network adjacent to the project is deemed
by County DOT staff to be adequate for the existing and expected traffic. Given
the enormous amount of commercial development that has been approved
for this area, it is possible that the County could find the area's
road network -- primarily US 41 and Coconut Road-- to be insufficient after this store is opened until Sandy Lane and Three Oaks Parkway are completed.
This store would
be located immediately adjacent to homes in Marsh Landing and in
Consequently, it is likely to raise many of the same issues that we
have been wrestling with over the last year regarding the proposed
Koreshan Boulevard store and its neighboring community, The
Vines. Lee County has two policies that are designed to protect residents from the
negative impact of new adjacent commercial development. They are:
which states in part: "Commercial development will be approved
only when compatible with adjacent existing and proposed land
uses…" , and
which states in part: "Protect existing and future residential
areas from any encroachment of uses that are potentially
destructive to the character and integrity of the residential
development around this property has expanded greatly since it was
zoned in 1998 the County may want to review the requirements of the
existing zoning that attempt to implement these policies before
approving the Development Order for the project.
Wal-Mart has not
yet submitted any project information to the EDRC but has indicated
that they are not planning to use the same architectural design for
that building as has been negotiated for the Koreshan store. This is
unfortunate because all of the properties around the site have
committed to a Mediterranean design. They include the existing
Brooks Commerce Center,
the Walden Center,
the new Cole Taylor building in
the plans for all of Coconut Point extending from the Sanibel
Steakhouse to Williams Road and the proposed
dental office building in Coconut Square.
Wal-Mart has not scheduled meetings with the residents of
Landing and Coconut Shores before scheduling the community-wide (EDRC) hearing unlike the
Koreshan store procedure where Wal-Mart met first with the residents
of The Vines. Hopefully, Wal-Mart will postpone the EDRC meeting
until March and schedule meetings with the residents of Marsh
Landing and Coconut Shores prior to that meeting.
During January Lee County zoning staff found
Wal-Mart's zoning application to be complete
enough to set a date for a public hearing by a County Hearing
April 1, 2004.
If approved by the County Wal-Mart would be able to construct a
208,000 square foot super Wal-Mart on the northeast corner of Koreshan Boulevard and US 41. Super Wal-Mart's contain a large grocery operation and a
tire-lube facility in addition to the general merchandise stocked by
all Wal-Mart stores. The application also would authorize one
additional store on an outlot located directly on the corner of US
41 and Koreshan.
transportation staff have indicated to Wal-Mart that the store
cannot receive a development order (DO) nor begin construction until
the segment of US 41 adjacent to the store has been programmed and
budgeted for 6-laning within three years of the issuance of that DO.
At present this segment of US 41 is not programmed until state
fiscal year 2008-09 which begins in October 2008. As a consequence
Wal-Mart has offered to pay the interest on a County low interest
loan to Florida DOT that would permit the programming of this
segment to be accelerated by two years to fiscal 2006-07. Although
the County would very much like to accelerate construction of this
road segment such a commitment cannot legally be tied to the zoning.
Consequently the proposal has not been accepted by the County and
may not be resolved until the zoning process has been completed,
probably in May, June or July.
Wal-Mart Committee of the Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL)
has met with County zoning staff to learn about the latest changes
in the development plan and to discuss its concerns. Wal-Mart has
offered to provide the committee with a briefing on its zoning
request and its Development Order application, now that both have
been filed with the county. This meeting is expected to be scheduled
for early February. After that meeting the Council of Community
leaders will review all the outstanding issues and prepare for a
negotiating session with Wal-Mart. After that meeting the
decide how they will testify at the Hearing Examiner's hearing on
April 1st and later before the Board of County
Wal-Mart has also
been meeting with the leaders of The
Vines regarding a possible
private south access road to that community from Koreshan Boulevard.
Such a road would permit Vines residents to go south on US 41
without having to use the dangerous existing US 41 intersection.
Once again this
winter and spring the Estero Council of Community Leaders is
sponsoring its “Village With a Vision” educational program for
residents throughout Estero. The program includes a 20 minute Power
Point presentation and a 40 minute panel discussion. The program
traces the history of Estero from 1500 AD to the present and
explains what the community is doing to manage its dynamic growth.
It also shows how our community will look in a couple of years when
our commercial corridors are completed.
Last year Jim
Ramsburg and his panel of “Estero All-Stars” presented this program
to over 1000 Estero residents. ‘Village With a Vision” presentations
can be scheduled from now through April. If your community,
neighborhood organization, church group or service organization have
not yet participated in this free program and want to know what is
going on in Estero, call Jim at 949-0362 or email him at
January two additional Sandy Lane Alignment Study presentations were
conducted by Lee County DOT and its consultant, Kris Cella. This
concludes the public input phase of the Alignment Study. Now the
consultant will complete their research and prepare their
recommendations. Once complete the recommendations will be presented
to a public workshop for discussion prior to being finalized and
presented to the Bonita City Council and the BOCC for their
modification or approval.
The Northern Alignment
The first meeting
was held in San Carlos Park and focused upon the alternative routes between Corkscrew Road and the connection to Oriole Road,
an existing road in San Carlos Park.
Over 150 people attended and the testimony was dominated by San Carlos Park residents who were opposed to connecting Sandy Lane to Oriole Road because they believe it would increase current speeding and stop
Prior to that
meeting about 60 residents on north Estero communities met to
discuss three alternative routes for Sandy Lane between Corkscrew Road and Koreshan Boulevard.
Andy Getch of Lee DOT attended the meeting to observe the
discussion. This group reached consensus on the following three
This segment of Sandy Lane should be limited to no more than two lanes; and
The segment of Sandy Lane between Corkscrew Road and Broadway should:
First choice: be
constructed on a new route along the eastern side of the railroad
tracks lying just west of the existing Sandy Lane,
Second Choice: extend
the existing Sandy Lane around the west side of the Champion Tree; and
Sandy Lane should fly-over a road that would connect the eastern and western
parts of the Cascades development on the route reserved for it by
the Cascades zoning. Lee County DOT indicated that such a "flyover"
would have to be paid for by the developer and/or the residents of
the Cascades. A mid-February meeting has been scheduled between Levitt and Sons, the developer of the Cascades, and a group of
Cascade residents to discuss the "flyover" proposal.
If these goals
are not satisfied a majority of the group would probably oppose
extension of the road north of Corkscrew Road.
The Southern Alignment
Later in January
the City of Bonita
and the County sponsored the final public hearing that concentrated
upon the five alternative routes between the
development and Old 41 in Bonita Springs and the "no-build" option for this segment. The meeting was
dominated by concerns expressed by residents of the San Carlos
Estates community that they would lose their homes and their
neighborhood would once again be divided by the eastern routes
proposed by the consultant.
options presented by the consultant for this route do not appear to
be the most feasible and safe. The two western routes would appear
to connect with Old 41 too close to the existing Old 41/US 41
intersection and the eastern route unnecessarily divides the San
Carlos Estates community and would displace far more homes than
necessary. At the same time they did not consider a route that would
cross the railroad tracts through the junk yard and hug the eastern
boundary of the rail right-of-way through the Rinker property to a
connection with Old 41 at or near Signal Road.
Hopefully it is not too late for the County and City to consider
this less disruptive route.
Now that the
public hearings are complete it is time for the BOCC and the Bonita
City Council and administration to begin discussions regarding joint
planning, financing and construction of this important gap-filling
road. By 2007, after Old 41 has been widened to four lanes, Bonita
Springs and Estero will be served by a four lane Sandy Lane from
Corkscrew Road to Pelican Colony Boulevard and a four lane Old 41
from US 41 to Terry Street. Unless Sandy Lane is extended from Pelican Colony Boulevard to Old 41 we will have a seven mile north-south corridor with a one
mile gap in the middle.
Associates, the County's Alignment Study consultant, will use this
public input to prepare their draft recommendations for the County.
Sometime in February when these recommendations are complete, the
County and its consultant will conduct a workshop for further public
review before finalizing their report.
residents are encouraged to watch the newspapers for the time and
place of the workshop and come prepared to support the
recommendations that best satisfy our transportation needs.
On February 3rd
the BOCC is expected to approve a County DOT staff recommendation that would allocate $4,086,000 of the
$6,270,000 paid by the developers of
Coconut Point in road impact
fees during December to construction of Three Oaks Parkway between Coconut Road and E. Terry Street in Bonita Springs. This money would become
available for this project in October of this year. At present
County DOT expects to begin construction of this segment in mid-2005 and to
complete the road in early 2007. If permitting by the regional water
district and the U.S. Corp of Engineers and right-of-way acquisition
can be completed sooner then construction may begin closer to the
beginning of the budgeted fiscal year, October 2004.
The balance of
the payment, $2,184,000 has been paid by the County to the City of
Bonita Springs for use in widening Old 41 from US 41 to Rosemary
During the last four years over 7,000
new housing units have been permitted in Estero. The total building
value of these units exceeds $1.1 billion exclusive of the related
Number of Units Permitted
As the table
shows the number of units permitted has declined during the last two
years compared to Estero's peak growth years of 2000 and 2001. The
primary cause of the decline is the rapid build out of
and The Brooks.
peak permitting period was 2000 with about 650 housing units. The
project's permitting declined to about 250 in 2001 and less than 50
Brooks peaked in 2001 with about 900 housing units permitted. Both
2000 and 2002 were very strong years for The Brooks with over 600
units permitted in each year. Last year units permitted in The
Brooks fell to less than 300 units.
Number of Units Permitted
Thus the dramatic
expansion of The Brooks in 2001 offset the sharp decline in
Sound permits. While the decline in Brooks permitting during 2002
and 2003 fully accounted for Estero's overall permitting decline.
During 2003 two
new developments, The Cascades and
Villagio, each permitted over 250
housing units in their first year of marketing. Both of these
projects will be major contributors to Estero's growth during the
next few years.
Two second year
projects, Colonial Oaks and the
Hyatt Timeshares, added about 100
units during 2003. Colonial Oaks permitted all its 100 housing units
in just two years. Other recently initiated residential communities,
The Rookery and Grandezza, continued as substantial sources of
residential growth during 2003.
Next month we
will report on our housing unit permitting projections for
2004-2008. In addition to all the residential communities that will
continue to develop during 2004, three major residential communities
will complete site preparation and begin building new housing units.
They are Bella Lago, a Toll brothers project, with zoning for over
400 units; Bella Terra, a U. S. Homes project, with zoning for 1,824
housing units and a Coconut Point housing development with about 450
units. The developers of The Meadows of Pelican Sound, a 250 units,
project, recently filed for a development order in order to prepare
their site for development soon. In addition two smaller projects
are just getting underway: Estero Palms with 32 units and
River Estates with 94 units.
2003 two new housing developments were zoned but are not expected to
begin substantial construction during 2004. They are
with zoning for over 200 housing units and
Marbella Estates with
about 200 units.
December the developers of Coconut Point paid the County $6.1
million, the first of two payments that the developer is required to
pay the County to improve the road system that will support the
development. The County, in turn, paid the City of Bonita Springs
$2.3 million to help the City to pay for the widening of Old 41
between US 41 and Rosemary Drive.
In December of this year the developers are required to pay the
County an additional $8.6 million, the final installment in road
On January 27th
The Simon Group announced some of the tenants that will occupy the
first phase of Coconut Point's retail center. This phase will
consist of 40 to 50 stores containing 600,000 square feet of retail
space surrounding a 15 acre lake. This is Simon's "Community Center"
with a scheduled opening date of October 2005. Some of the larger
stores in the Community Center will be Best Buy, T J Maxx, Sports
Authority, DSW, Petsmart and Ross Dress for Less. The balance of the
Community Center will be occupied by smaller stores and restaurants
The "Town Center",
that will appear to be an old town main street fronted by a variety
of buildings all of Mediterranean design, will open in September the
following year (2006). The Town Center will consist of about 100 stores containing about 620,000 square
feet of retail. The announced anchors in this phase are an 180,000
square foot Dillard's and a 93,000 square foot
Muvico twenty screen
theatre. In addition the Town Center is expected to include a major book store, a hotel, 80 to 90 smaller
stores and several restaurants.
The 2004 Schedule
BOCC approval of
the Development Agreement is expected in February. This is the
document that details how the developer and the county will meet
their public responsibilities for roads, housing and environmental
Coconut Point requires the developers to prepare appearance
standards for the entire 483 acre site that must be approved by the
County. The developers will present the appearance standards to the
Estero Council of Community Leaders during February. The Council
will appoint a Committee to review the standards and to work with
the developers and County staff to ensure that they are consistent
with the appearance standards established by the community for other
commercial projects during the last several years.
for both the Community Center and Town Center is scheduled to begin in about 6 months (June/July). Construction of
the Community Center is scheduled to begin in about 8 months
(September) with Town Center construction expected to begin one year from now, in January 2005.
Sandy Lane from Corkscrew Road to Pelican Colony Boulevard is scheduled to begin later this year, about September, 2004.
This 102 acre project
located on the east side of US 41 between Williams Road and the
Corkscrew Village Shopping Center has been found "sufficient" by the
Regional Planning Council. This means that Lee County can now begin the zoning process for this major Estero project, our
third largest after Coconut Point and the
Miromar Discount Mall. If
approved as requested it will contain 550,000 square feet of retail
space, 120,000 square feet of office, a 150 room hotel and 150
housing units. The project is being developed by many of the Coconut
The development combines 9 parcels of
land with 6 owners into a unified project that uses many Estero Plan
and Main Street Overlay principals and is designed to compliment the
Coconut Point Town Center immediately to the south. Thus almost 3 miles on the east side of
41 in Estero will have a consistent, attractive architectural and
Also during January a Lee County
Hearing Examiner heard testimony on the developer's request for an
amendment to the Lee County Comprehensive Plan that would allow this
type of project on the site.
architectural style not Mediterranean but an Industrial/Contemporary Style. This is in not consistent
with the Corkscrew Road overlay or the proposed US 41 overlay that has not yet been
approved by the BOCC.
arch feature on the front of the building could be deeper to
provide greater impact.
the arch to allow for a barrel tile roof or some other solution
to maintain consistent roof material.
sizes to 45 gallon, 14 - 16 feet in height with a minimum 6 foot
taller palms the hide the upper blank walls on the front of the
space between the building and drain field for additional palms.
does not meet county requirements for native shrubs
outside storage unit and dumpster with plants as well as a
wall-illuminating lights under the eaves.
overhead door so that it matches the building.
the possibility of redesigning the building-corner tower area so
that does not conflict with arched entry style.
monument sign is added then surround the base with landscaping.
The gas station site
plan was determined to meet the setback requirements in the zoning
resolution which precedes the Estero Land Development Code
requirements for gas station/convenience stores. However, the
landscape, architecture, lighting etc. requirements of the Code are
applicable to the project.
Eliminate the red
building accents in exchange for a more neutral color.
Change the roof to
barrel tile from the proposed standing seam metal.
he glass/wall ratio are
not as interpreted and thus should be redesigned.
Windows on north
elevation should be smaller than shown on plan.
Remove the applied
columns on building and substitute similar effect via scoring,
texture and coloration.
The applicant agrees to
submit new sign package for the project.
Add a 5 foot wide strip
of green area between building and parking lot as required by
Remove the parking
spaces in landscape buffer at south end of site facing Corkscrew Road.
The required commercial
building perimeter landscaping does not meet the requirements of the LDC (50% of required area must be in the front of building).
The Type “D” buffer on
south end of site must be 20 feet wide, not 15 feet as shown on the
pedestrian linkages and pedestrian/open space amenities such as a
bike rack, outdoor seating, etc.
density of trees in green space at south end of building.
Urged that canopy and
buffer trees be upgraded to 45 Gallon, 14-16 foot height with a
minimum 6 foot spread.
The dumpster must be
buffered by plants.
Embassy Suites, also located in the
Estero Interstate Commerce Park,
presented a greatly improved landscape plan for that project. After
reviewing that plan the EDRC voted to send a letter to Lee County authorizing the County to begin processing the Development Order
application for the project with the understanding that the
developer will submit to further review of the architecture and
landscaping by the EDRC.