Hearing Dates Set: Judges to Decide Motions

Our legal challenges to increased building heights and density on Captiva continue on the three separate fronts discussed in prior emails. There have been some significant developments and here is the latest update.

Captiva Civic Association’s (“CCA”) challenge to the Land Development Code (“LDC”) amendments that increase building heights, density, and intensity on Captiva and South Seas has been scheduled for trial from Aug. 19-22, and then continuing on Aug. 26. Our planning and evacuation expert witnesses are lined up to testify and prepared to show why the LDC amendments are inconsistent with the longstanding historical development pattern on Captiva that the County must maintain under the Lee Plan. The original Petition was filed by CCA against Lee County, and the new owners of South Seas have intervened on behalf of the County and the City of Sanibel is intervening on behalf of CCA. Almost immediately upon intervening, South Seas filed a motion to strike 24 paragraphs of our Petition – paragraphs that relate to “density” and go directly to the heart of the issue. Our attorneys believe that the South Seas motion is “borderline frivolous” and should be summarily denied. Our Response to the South Seas’ motion to strike is attached here.

CCA’s legal action to enforce the 2003 Settlement Agreement which confirmed the 912-unit density cap on South Seas will soon meet its first test before Judge Shenko in the Circuit Court of the Twentieth Judicial District. The Settlement Agreement provides that “the total number of dwelling units on South Seas Resorts is limited to 912. No building permits may be issued by the County for dwelling units within South Seas Resort that will cause that number to be exceeded at any time.” The County has moved to dismiss the complaint claiming in various ways that the County exceeded its authority when it entered into that agreement back in 2003. Our attorneys disagree and our Opposition to the County’s Motion to Dismiss is attached here. The hearing before Judge Shenko on the Motion is set for July 9.

South Seas’ third revised Plan Application to build 196 new condominiums and two new hotels with a total of 435 rooms has again been rejected as insufficient by the County. The County continues to require that South Seas provide a potable water availability letter from Island Water Association, to explain how its increase in hotel rooms will impact existing properties on the resort, to document how parking demands associated with the new development will be met, and to clarify how future employees of the resort will get to and from Captiva. The County also advised South Seas that a hearing on the Plan Application will not be scheduled until a complete application is submitted. The County’s new Insufficiency Letter is attached here.

The “Protect Captiva” legal fund which supports all of our legal work (and only our legal work) has reached the $600,000 mark. Now that South Seas and its attorneys have intervened on behalf of the County wherever possible, we expect our legal work and associated costs to increase. We thank everyone for their incredibly generous contributions so far. If you are able, please continue to contribute to the tax-deductible legal fund here.