LEE COUNTY, Fla. — In Alva, just off North River Road, cows can be seen grazing on a stretch of land brimming with wetlands and wildlife.
However, this rural landscape could soon see a drastic change as Florida-based developer, Neal Communities, plans to construct nearly 1,500 homes on it.
Local non-profit group, Alva Strong, started a petition against the development and has gathered over 380 signatures.
In a meeting on Sunday, the group said it's worried the project will threaten the uniqueness of the area.
"Everything that we're trying to preserve...is being damaged by things like this." said group member James Kennedy, who expressed concern that the development would push out local wildlife.
Hundreds of acres of wetland habitat would be developed - land that is home to keystone species like gopher tortoises and alligators.
Alva Strong believes that a "one house per acre" restriction would allow the ecosystem to thrive.
Kennedy emphasized, "We took into account the groundwater replenishment. We took into account the threatened and endangered species. We took into account the things that are endemic to this area that will be irreparably damaged. Once you come in and change this, you're not just changing the density...you're changing the identity of the area."
Alva Strong said that the development would triple the area's population, potentially putting a strain on emergency services as well.
"Imagine the kind of stress that puts on fire safety and EMS," said Alva resident, Amy Cochran.
Cochran believes first response times could be delayed because State Road 31 and other state roads are still years away from any widening or safety improvements to support the population boom.
Cochran suggested that local governments should invest in infrastructure improvements before they increase density.
“We don't mind the change. It's not about the change; it's about smart change and not overdevelopment," said Cochran.
Fox 4 reached out to Neal Communities to ask about these concerns but has yet to hear back.
Alva Strong is gearing up to present their petition at the Lee County Planning Agency meeting in downtown Fort Myers at 9 on Monday morning, hoping to shed light on the potential impacts of the proposed development.