May Meeting Summary and Recording (Publix Plaza)

Minutes of the May 3, 2022, meeting of the Greater Pine Island Civic Association. Meeting location: Pine Island Methodist Church.

Board Members Present: Nadine Slimak, Vice President; Mike Sweeney, Treasurer; Connie D’Alessio, Acting Secretary; Board Members Shari Perkins, Deborah Swisher-Hicks,

  • 62 meeting attendees signed in, though the Board counted 70 in attendance in person with another dozen or so watching the livestream on Facebook.

Nadine Slimak, GPICA Vice President opened the May 2022 GPICA general meeting, with the sole item on the agenda a public information session regarding the Calusa Cay CPD Amendments. (Click this link to view the livestream recording of the meeting.)

The meeting addressed the changes being sought by the developers of Calusa Cay. Developer, Lake Jefferson LLC, is seeking:

  • To add a Sheriff’s Station to the overall Schedule of Uses
  • Reduce retail square footage from 96,500 square feet to 89,600 square feet
  • Add 60,000 square feet of self-storage use on Parcel 3
  • Add warehouse, public and mini-warehouse to the schedule of uses for Parcel 3
  • Increase height on Parcel 3 for self-storage use only from 35 feet to 38 feet
  • And update Master Concept Plan to reflect these changes.

Guest Speaker: Stacy Hewitt, Director of Planning at Banks Engineering, represented the developer and shared this powerpoint presentation that provided an overview of the changes being sought.

  • You can review her powerpoint presentation here

Additionally, she stated that:

  • Calusa Cay CPD Amendment DCI 2022-00017 includes 26.77 acres
  • Banks Engineering will resubmit an outline with more specifics on details of EMS, fire or sheriff’s substation to specify a sheriff’s substation only
  • Banks Engineering will resubmit an outline with more specific wording on the height change to include wording directly from the Pine Island Plan to read “45 feet above mean sea level, whichever is lower”
  • They’re in compliance with Plan Policy 24.4.1 and LDC Sec 33-10087 max height
  • The existing Publix building is 35’ tall at its highest point.

Among the Questions from the Floor:

  • Can the lease to the sheriff’s office become a retail store location at a later date? YES
  • Request for clarification that the reduction of 7,000 in retail space was paired with an increase of 60,000 of storage space. YES/CORRECT
  • There was discussion about variances vs. amendments vs. deviations. Hewitt insisted that the residential project (Orchid Cove, located to the rear of the Publix plaza) is a separate project from the commercial plaza at the heart of this public information session. She also stated that this is not a variance and nor a deviation, but simply an amendment.
  • Why does the developer need the additional 3 feet in height? Hewitt stated that it is allowed by the Pine Island Plan
  • Floor discussion included the difference between indoor storage and self storage.
  • Traffic Impacts: Hewitt advised that traffic expert analysis showed that there were no negative traffic impacts and it is currently under further review by Lee Country traffic experts.
  • Pine Island Elementary School field flooding and impacts to surrounding wetlands north and south: Hewitt stated that it was all reviewed and approved by South Florida Water Management District.
  • Other commenters stated that: There is no need for additional storage on Pine Island —Hewitt stated that a business requested that usage and that’s why they’re seeking the change.
  • Lighting issues/concerns with the current operations: Hewitt advised that the storage unit have warehouse lighting and security lighting and did not further comment.
  • Residents expressed concerns that taxes will increase to support the sheriff’s substation.
  • Residents asked whether the proposed storage could be changed into something else if the market did no support a self-storage business. Hewitt read off an extensive list of other viable options for that building and mentioned one exception not allowed would be a hotel.
  • Residents asked for further information about the public hearing process and next steps.
  • Hewitt advised that legally they will have to notify all residents and businesses within a 500 foot radius of the project lines but that they are not required to advertise further.
  • Residents noted that the Matlacha-Pine Island Fire District’s tallest ladder is only 35 feet — shorter than the proposed building.

Slimak advised all in attendance of the County review process:

  1. Lee County Community Development staff will review the developers requests and make comments on needs for revisions, etc.
  2. Once that review process is completed, staff will make their recommendations about the project to the Hearing Examiner.
  3. A hearing date before the Hearing Examiner will be set (with the Developer being required to advise residents within 500 feet of the project)
  4. Members of the public may make comments about the project during that hearing. IMPORTANT NOTE: Residents MUST make comments before the hearing examiner in order to be heard when the project goes before the Lee County Commission for final approval.
  5. The Hearing Examiner will make his/her recommendations and then a date will be set for a hearing before the Lee County Commission.
  6. At that hearing, residents who addressed their issues before the Hearing Examiner may once again address their issues to Commissioners.
  7. The Commission will vote on whether to approve the project changes.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It is ILLEGAL for residents to contact Lee County Commissioners to discuss zoning issues that will eventually come before them for a vote. All commissioners must be present at the same time when zoning issues are discussed.

Following discussion, Slimak called for a show of hands of support/opposition to the proposed changes:

  • Add a sheriff’s substation usage. Vote: 60 opposed; 10 approved
  • Reduce retail square footage from 95,000 square feet to 89,600 square feet. Vote: 44 opposed; 26 approved
  • Add 60,000-square-foot self-storage use on Parcel 3. Vote: 67 opposed; 3 approved
  • Add warehouse, public and mini-warehouse to the schedule of uses for Parcel 3. Vote: 67 opposed; 3 approved
  • Increase height on Parcel 3 for self-storage use only from 35 feet to 38 feet above average grade or 45 feet above mean sea level, whichever is lower. Vote: 70 opposed
  • Update Master Concept Plan to reflect these changes. Vote: 67 opposed; 3 supported

GPICA Board Member Mike Sweeney made a motion to adjourn the meeting, with Board Member Deborah Swisher Hicks seconding.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:40 p.m.

— Minutes respectfully submitted by GPICA Board Member Connie D’Alessio

Additional information: The Pine Island Eagle covered the hearing. View their news story here.


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