CAPTIVA, Fla. – Representing the Protect Captiva coalition, the Captiva Civic Association (CCA) filed a petition with Lee County on Jan. 8 challenging the new land development regulations that increase building heights on Captiva, and building heights and hotel density on South Seas Island Resort.
“The communities of Captiva and Sanibel came out in force and tried everything possible to convince the Board of County Commissioners to maintain the long-established height and density regulations that protect our fragile barrier island,” said CCA and Protect Captiva representative Lisa Riordan. “The Commissioners completely ignored their constituency – giving us no choice but to commence litigation.”
Florida law requires that all land development regulations enacted shall be consistent with the adopted Comprehensive Plan of Lee County. On Sept. 5, 2023, under the guise and “false flag” of resiliency, Lee County adopted new land development regulations that have little to do with resiliency and are not lawfully consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
While the Captiva chapter of the county’s Comprehensive Plan protects Captiva by continuing land use patterns that maintain historic low-density development, the new land development regulations exempt South Seas from all Captiva height and hotel density limits. They also permit three rather than the historic two habitable floors on Captiva’s residential dwellings.
“The radical increase in building heights and density at South Seas is inconsistent with the historic development of the resort and sets a precedent for over-development that will inevitably change the unique and special character of Captiva,” said Jay Brown, President of the Captiva Community Panel.
In an effort to take advantage of the new land development regulations, South Seas submitted a plan application on Dec. 15 that increases density from 247 units to 707 units with new buildings as high as 64 feet – almost twice as high as currently permitted on South Seas and almost 50 percent higher than currently allowed on Captiva.
“The new land development regulations and the increases in heights and density sought by South Seas are totally inconsistent with Captiva’s current infrastructure, its limited hurricane evacuation capability, and its environmental resources,” said James Evans, CEO of Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation. “Captiva is a fragile barrier island which cannot absorb the development projects sought by South Seas. The community has no choice but to contest these unwise and unacceptable changes in the court of law.”