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Why a group opposing Redfish Pointe development wants answers

SCCF claims Cape Coral wetlands are a "natural buffer" against storms
Redfish Pointe
Posted at 6:29 PM, Dec 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-05 18:29:49-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — On Tuesday, a group of people in Cape Coral who were opposing the Redfish Pointe development on wetlands in Cape Coral held a public meeting at the Cape Coral Library.

The keynote speaker of the event, Matt DePaolis, the Environmental Policy Director of Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation told Fox 4 that the wetlands in Cape Coral serve as a natural buffer against storms.

Group members argue the wetlands are vital for the safety and well-being of the community and that destroying them would increase the risk of flooding and erosion.

“This area of RedFish Pointe that has been proposed in, is some of the last remaining wetland on Cape Coral it’s some of the last undeveloped areas in the Caloosahatchee River,” said DePaolis.

DePaolis said so far, he hasn't heard any response from the city or project leaders.

“I think that is where we are at. It has been pretty quiet from the city,” said DePaolis.

Back in September, Annette Barbaccia, the Commercial Manager for Redfish Pointe told Fox 4 that developers would work with community concerns.

“We just encourage, if people are concerned… to work with us,” said Barbaccia

If the land amendment is approved by the Cape Coral City Council, the development would take up 110 acres of wetland near Rotary Park with multi-family homes, restaurants, shops, and a resort-style hotel.

DePaolis said the land development would eliminate Cape Coral's protection against future hurricanes.

“Especially in the aftermath of Ian, what we saw with the massive storm surge that moved in over our area and how important it was to have mangroves to have areas that can absorb that water to have wetlands,” said DePaolis.

On its website, Redfish Pointe said the amendment would establish 110.22 acres for development and improvements, approximately one-third of the property while continuing to preserve the remaining two-thirds.

On Tuesday, Fox 4 asked DePaolis if preserving the remaining two-thirds of the property was acceptable.

“I think it depends on who you ask. If my house was right next to a wetland that was gonna be filled in and suddenly that area is not available to absorb water when a storm surge is coming across that wouldn't be acceptable to me,” said DePaolis.

According to Barbaccia, the owners won’t accept a bid until after the city approves the land use amendment. She said the timeline is uncertain for when that will happen.