Greater Pine Island Civic Association General Meeting, 3-1-22
GPICA President Helen Fox called the meeting to order at 6:36 p.m. at the Pine Island Methodist Church, 5701 Pine Island Road NW, Bokeelia, FL 33922. 25 people attended the in-person meeting. Another 8-10 attended via live-stream on the GPICA’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PineIslandCivicAssociation.
After her opening comments, she made provided several updates:
- An overview about the recent meeting of the Matlacha Civic Association that included representatives from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) discussing a proposed bike path from Burnt Store Road to Stringfellow Road. The GPICA has a representative on the public committee working with FDOT on plans for the pathway.
- Asked everyone to mark their calendars for the next general meeting of the GPICA, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. April 5 — returning to our typical in-person meeting space at the Elks Club. We’ll be kicking off the celebration of the GPICA’s 65th anniversary, discussing the issues of interest to the community (traffic, water quality, 2020 preserve management). The evening’s main speaker will be Lee County Commissioner Kevin Ruane.
- GPICA Vice President Nadine Slimak announced the winners of the recent Board Elections. Board members Slimak, Shari Perkins and Deborah Swisher-Hicks were all re-elected. Additionally, one new GPICA member nominated herself for a position on the board. While she has not been a member long enough to serve (must be six months), the Board will reach out to help her get involved.
Helen handed the mic off to Tony Wallace, representative from Stokes Marine, to provide an overview of an administrative deviation being requested by his client at 12060 Shoreview Drive, Matlacha, to the 25-foot setbacks required for a proposed dock and boat lift on the property.
- The client will be tearing down the current dilapidated docks and wishes to replace them with a dock and boat lift, but the existing space doesn’t have enough space for setbacks. According to Wallace, the Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District have already approved the project.
- No one in attendance at the meeting was opposed to the deviation request and no formal vote count was taken.
The next discussion focused on property at 7746 Stringfellow Road, St. James City.
- This property located across the street from Flamingo Bay is owned by the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast (CF), which is seeking several changes so the organization can develop a passive-use, publicly accessible park.
- Presenters on behalf of the organization included Christine Johnson, President of the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, Land Stewardship Manager Lee Amos, and Pam Brownell, Chief of Staff, along with their engineering/mitigation consultants Tom Odom, PE, President Mitigation Resources, and Veronica Martin, Senior Planner, TDM Consulting.
- Project Overview: In 2009, the Foundation — with support through Florida Forever Funding — purchased 230 acres of the property. (Later, Lee County 2020 purchased an adjacent 190 acres.) Before being purchased by the Foundation, the property was to be a planned development of 344 housing units.
- Because the preserve was purchased with Florida Forever dollars, the Foundation is required to allow and encourage public access to the property, which is held under a conservation easement (meaning that the land can never be used for commercial development). Foundation representatives said the property is being management for two main species — the gopher tortoise and the eastern indigo snake — and that it is also an important area for Florida long-leaf pine. (Pine Island is the southern-most point where long-leaf pine can be found naturally and our stock could help ensure that pines in the northern parts of the state can survive a changing climate, according to Amos.)
- Plans for the property include a wetlands pond surrounded by an accessible trail, a boardwalk through the mangroves to Matlacha Pass, where there will be a kayak haul-out, along with a kayak launch area, paved parking lot, compost toilet, a couple of picnic pavilions and an open green space of bahia grass. There will be no electricity or water/sewer at the site.
The Foundation is seeking changes to allow the project to move forward:
- Rezoning from AG-2 and C-1A to EC (Environmentally Critical), including a text change in the Comprehensive Plan amendment.
- Special Exception pursuant to LDC Sec. 983(3) to permit accessory structures and impervious surface areas for passive recreation in the EC zoning district
- Amend the Future Land Use Map from Coastal Rural and Uplands to Conservation Lands, Uplands and Wetlands
Questions from audience members included why the parking lot couldn’t be shelled instead of paved; the Foundation replied that it was cost prohibitive to use shell (more maintenance required) and could also lead to sedimentation in the retention pond, which the Foundation is hoping to build in such a way that it can by used by wildlife.
Audience members also sought assurances that the property would not be used for large-scale events, or as a rental venue for things like weddings. CF President assured the audience that the property will NOT be the location for events like Mango Mania or be a venue rental site. She noted that with one composting toilet, no electricity, water or sewer, that the venue would not be able to support that many people. Lee Amos also pointed out that the property was being managed as a wildlife preserve and so that would dictate property use — with the idea being that large-scale events and protecting wildlife on the property are not compatible uses.
- For fuller discussion of issues and questions, please see the live-stream recording on the GPICA facebook page.
- 9 people voted in support of the wording change, with 8 opposed
- 18 voted in support of the overall rezoning, with 2 opposed
- 16 voted in support of the overall application, with 4 opposed
The final issue before the public information session was a rezoning request for 8523 Stringfellow Road (near the feed store), which is currently zoned commercial general, and needs to be rezoned to commercial planned development. The owner is seeking to build a small lawn and garden center.
• 4 people voted in favor, with 5 opposed
Helen Fox wrapped up the meeting and at 8:28 p.m. Slimak made a motion to adjourn with board member Mike Sweeney seconding and the meeting was adjourned.
Minutes submitted by Nadine Slimak