Protect Captiva Legal Update

As reported earlier, the Captiva Civic Association (CCA) for the Protect Captiva Coalition filed a petition under State statutes challenging the Land Development Code amendments as inconsistent with the governing Lee Plan. The State’s Department of Commerce has scheduled an informal hearing on the Petition for April 4 and will issue a written decision sometime in May. Depending upon that decision, either party can request a hearing from the Division of Administrative Hearings and an administrative law judge. The parties to the administrative hearing would be the CCA (Protect Captiva Coalition), the County, any intervenor, and the Department of Commerce. Eventually, the matter could reach the Governor and members of his Cabinet for enforcement.

In conjunction with the hearing before the Department of Commerce, the attorney for the CCA (Protect Captiva Coalition) filed a written presentation with reports from planning and evacuation experts. The presentation explains the following:

  • That the Lee Plan addresses specific conditions unique to Captiva; that enforce development standards that maintain the historic low-density residential development pattern of Captiva, that continue existing land use patterns; that limit development to that which is in keeping with the historic development pattern on Captiva, that maintain building heights that account for barrier island conditions; that prohibit the reduction of minimum lot sizes; and that prohibit any further exceedance of hurricane evacuation timeframes.
  • That the historic development pattern and existing land use patterns on Captiva cannot be disputed, and have been in effect for 20 to 50 years: 3 units per acre for hotels and dwelling units on Captiva including South Seas; building heights on Sea Seas -— the lesser of 35 feet above grade or 42 feet above sea level; building heights on Captiva -— the lesser of 35 feet above grade or 42 feet above sea level or 28 feet above base flood elevation (whichever is least restrictive).
  • That the language of the Land Development Code amendments are inconsistent with Lee Plan on their face: they expressly exempt South Seas from current building heights and would permit buildings as high as 45 feet to 75 feet above base flood elevation; they expressly exempt South Seas from the limitation of 3 hotel units per acre and would allow an unlimited number of hotel rooms; and they increase building heights on the rest of Captiva from 2 to 3 stories above base flood elevation.
  • That the potential development and the increase of evacuation times that could result from the Land Development Code amendments are unconscionable on a barrier island.

The written presentation and expert reports are attached here.

CCA Written Presentation

Hurricane Evacuation Analysis

Consistency of Lee County Ordinance 23-22

Enforcement of 2003 Mediation Settlement Agreement

Also this week, attorneys for the CCA (Protect Captiva Coalition) have filed a Complaint in Circuit Court seeking to enforce the 2003 Mediation Settlement Agreement that prohibits Lee County from issuing building permits for units within South Seas Island Resort that would exceed 912 units at any time. Currently, there are 640 units on South Seas that are part of other Associations; and Timbers was allocated only 247 units of the 912 (with 25 unbuilt units). Timbers is now applying to the County for 707 hotel and condominium units which would take the total number of units on South Seas to 1347 units — well over the 912 unit cap.

The Circuit Court complaint is attached here.

Circuit Court Complaint

County Deems South Seas Island Resort Application Insufficient

Finally, the Plan Application from South Seas Island Resort (Timbers) requesting the 707 units was deemed insufficient by the County. Timbers has now responded to the County and its response is under review. The CCA (Protect Captiva Coalition) will also review the Timbers’ response and will provide comments to the County. We will update everyone with a copy of our comments when completed.

Thanks for Contributing to the Legal Fund!

To date, contributions to the Protect Captiva Legal Fund have reached $450,000 with more than 600 separate contributors. The immediate goal is $750,000 and we thank everyone who has donated and who can donate in the future. All donations are tax-deductible.