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Homeowners in the Pine Lakes community say new development threatens their community

Posted at 1:37 AM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-01 01:37:59-05

NORTH FORT MYERS — Homeowners in North Fort Myers are getting ready to protest new development next door.

The company Equity Lifestyle Properties (ELS) is trying to get approval from Lee County to build hundreds more homes in the Pine Lakes community, but people living there are worried about traffic and overcrowding.

Homeowner Ron Thoreson first reached out to Fox 4 Tuesday, saying the planned development attached to his own quiet community would ruin his quality of life.

"The constant traffic back and forth in here would be way too much for the things that we have," said Thoreson.

But when we came to talk to him, dozens more homeowners had something to say as well.

"They’re trying to shoehorn 360 homes into this new development, because that makes maximum profit," said Ray Dunlap.

But the group of homeowners tells us they don’t have a problem with the construction itself, they just don’t want the three roads that would allow people to drive through their community. They say the traffic from those homes wouldn’t just be inconvenient, it could be unsafe.

"Golf carts, it has walkers, it has people walking their dog daily, bikers, and it’s just very unsafe to have that road turned into a thoroughfare," said Pam Wagner.

Homeowners are also worried their existing amenities could become overcrowded.

"Our tennis courts are busy, our golf course is busy, our pickle ball courts are full. The restaurant holds 80 people. We don’t have room for an additional 366 homes," said Beverly Thoreson.

ELS told the County in a September meeting it would build a new “Amenity Center” on the new property.

Homeowners tell us that’s fine, as long as the new people stay on their side of the fence.

"Develop your property into the trailer court that you want, but leave our community, this beautiful community, alone," said Wagner.

ELS will be making a presentation in front of the County Hearing Examiner Wednesday morning, and there will be an opportunity for public comment. That meeting will be in the Old County Courthouse in downtown Fort Myers at 9:00 a.m.