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CITY OF LEHIGH ACRES? Group raises money for study in hopes of incorporating

UNITELEHIGH
Posted at 8:55 PM, Mar 07, 2024

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — As Lehigh Acres grows, so does the movement to unite the area. Unite Lehigh started to raise money for a feasibility study that will show whether or not it makes financial sense to incorporate the district, making it its own city.

Unite Lehigh President Derek Felder wants Lehigh Acres to control its own destiny. Currently, Lee County manages the district.

"It's all about getting the feasibility study done, and then, from there we will evaluate," Felder said.

The study will look at the current tax base and the cost of existing services like fire, parks, roads and more.

Unite Lehigh said they need to raise $55,000 for the study, which will help decide whether becoming a city or town is worth the bang for resident's buck.

"We can determine what happens in our own community. It gives us a seat at the table," Felder said.

If the district incorporated, it could increase taxes, but Felder believes the benefit outweighs the cost.

"How much more are we going to get in better services that are being provided for our community?" Felder said.

Ana Acuna has lived in Lehigh Acres for 10 years. She's also a local pastor.

She said, “Me gustaría que Lehigh fuera una ciudad que tuviera su propia City Hall, su propia ciudad.” (I would like to see Lehigh be a city and have a proper city hall and proper city.)

Acuna added, “Imaginas más alto sufrimos nosotros, ¿no? No que pagamos impuesto, así que no.” (Imagine we suffer more, right? We don't pay taxes, still suffer.)

The 2020 US Census said the population of Lehigh Acres is 176,375 people compared to Bonita Springs with 53,633 people, which became a city in 1999.

Mohamed Yasin supports Unite Lehigh and has lived in Lehigh Acres for 23 years. He saw both Bonita Springs and Estero incorporate.

"This place is like a milking cow for the rest of the county. You know, decisions need to be made here for us," Yasin said.

If the feasibility study shows it makes sense for incorporation, Unite Lehigh's goal is to have it on the ballot in 2026.