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Concerned neighbors rally against South Seas Resort expansion plans

Posted at 5:29 PM, Mar 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-28 17:29:20-04

CAPTIVA, Fla. — Community tension increases on Captiva Island as Lee County sends back the expansion plans of South Seas Resort.

The resort's recent proposal to add 460 additional units has sparked a significant backlash from residents and environmental advocates alike.

The Lee County Department of Community Development has halted the resort's application, demanding further details before proceeding.

The Protect Captiva Coalition has raised nearly half a million dollars in legal funds to contest the proposed zoning amendments.

At the heart of the community's concern is the potential disruption to Captiva's natural landscape.

Lisa Riordan, CEO of the Captiva Civic Association, stated "We're perfectly happy with leaving things the way they are. We'd like the density to remain at 3 units per acre, and our building heights to remain at 28 feet above the FEMA flood levels."

Riordan also spoke about the increased strain on the island's infrastructure, including utilities, emergency services, and traffic, which could diminish the quality of life for residents and visitors alike if the changes were to be approved.

Further complicating matters is the ecological impact of the proposed development. James Evans, CEO of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), warned of the detrimental effects on local wildlife.

"Taller buildings with more lights have the potential to impact sea turtles and shorebirds. More people on the beach means more impacts to wildlife," Evans explained.

In January, the Captiva Civic Association filed a petition with Lee County in an attempt to challenge the new land development regulations being considered.

The community awaits the next hearing on April 4th, when the Florida Department of Commerce will determine whether the proposed changes violate the Lee County Comprehensive Plan.