CAPTIVA, Fla. — Despite push back from island residents and the State, Lee County staffers are recommending the Board of County Commissioners move forward with plans to allow taller buildings on Captiva. The County says this will make the island safe, but there are major accusations coming from the other side.
"The current rules and ordinances and plan allow for build back after Hurricane Ian, so you don't need these changes in height or density," said Lisa Riordan, Chair of the Captiva Civic Association Land Use Committee.
Riordan says the county's plans don't make sense to those who live on the barrier islands.
"There are differences in the County and various communities,” said Riordan. “And those should be recognized."
Lee County has continued to say these changes are to better protect the island against the next storm. But the Department of Commerce (FloridaCommerce) called the plan a "false flag" of "resilience" in an October 6 letter to the County. With FloridaCommerce going on to say the amendment is "clearly at least in part for the purpose of an increase in hotel room density."
Lee County pushed back on the accusation, saying in a letter to FloridaCommerce that the agency violated state law with that comment and were only to focus on state resources and facilities. Still, the County says the comments from FloridaCommerce did not identify any changes they needed to make.
"It is the opinion of staff that the comment provided by FloridaCommerce will not result in a challenge by the state land planning agency," said the Lee County Staff Report for BoCC Adoption Hearing.
The County also pushed back on the city of Sanibel's claims saying the plan does not increase density or intensity of development.
In the documents provided to Fox 4 on Thursday, it states the staff recommends the adoption of the amendments to the lee plan during a hearing set for November 8th.
"We hope that the County listens to us,” said Riordan. “And listens to the state, where they have said they have said it not about density, it is not about resiliency rather, it's about density. And if not, then there are legal options we will look at and pursue."
Lee County Board of County Commissioners will hold a public hearing considering the adoption on Wednesday, November 8 at 9:30am. In the previous hearing to move forward in September, Commissioner Kevin Ruane was only nay vote.