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Residents and Lee County Chairman speak out against proposed apartment development in Fort Myers

Doug Seaver Fort Myers resident
Tara Calligan
/
Doug Seaver (left), a resident of Somerset at The Plantation on Treeline Ave., brought a poster of an aerial view of development already approved. If the 64-acres is approved for additional housing, Seaver says that the entire West side of Treeline Ave. will be developed, increasing traffic in an already congested area. Darla Bonk (right), Fort Myers City Council representative for Ward 6, holds his poster board as he speaks during public comment.

Close to 100 residents living along the Treeline corridor in Fort Myers attended a town hall meeting at the Town Center of Pelican Preserve on Wednesday. Most showed up to speak out against a proposed apartment complex project at the corner of Treeline Avenue and Daniels Parkway.

Scores of surrounding homeowners lined up during the public comment portion. They echoed that the city cannot sustain more people moving to the area; shared experiences of severely-low water pressure; and overwhelmingly cited traffic concerns.

Town hall attendees
Tara Calligan
/
Close to 100 residents living along the Treeline Corridor in Fort Myers attended a town hall meeting at the Town Center of Pelican Preserve on Wednesday. Most showed up to speak out against a proposed apartment complex project at the corner of Treeline Avenue and Daniels Parkway.

Doug Seaver has been living in Somerset at the Plantation on Treeline for the past 11 years. He says a lack of adequate water pressure has been a problem in his home for 4 years now, and that traffic in the area is getting out of hand.

“The intersection at Daniels and Treeline is one of the busiest intersections in Fort Myers, and very often the traffic that is going South on Treeline to take a right turn onto Daniels goes past the entry to the Plantation, and that’s basically a mile,” said Seaver.

The developers, The Davis Group, are proposing to build 800 residential units on a 64-acre parcel of land, which was recently annexed into the City of Fort Myers in January. It also includes more than 300,000 square feet of commercial space. At Wednesday’s town hall, developer representatives promised that no direct access to Daniels Parkway would be included.

Lee County Commissioner and current Chairman Cecil Pendergrass says the county shares similar concerns.

“Because of the traffic, we’re not going to let them have access to Daniels Parkway. And currently the city, just this past year, has had to do an agreement with the county to provide drinking water to the residents," said Pendergrass. "So, I’m concerned about the health and safety and welfare of our residents. Why would you add more apartments if you don’t have enough water capacity now? They’re going to say they do; they don’t.”

Fort Myers City Council representative for Ward 6, Darla Bonk, says the water shortage issue is a grave one, but that a balance must be struck between developers and existing homeowners to make improvements to the city.

“As a council person, you have to look at where we are now, and how do we improve what's happened and keep this from happening again," said Bonk. "Meanwhile, you have owners who want to come and develop on their property and make money. So, you've got to figure out a way to balance those two things, because you've got to have these businesses on the tax roll so we can provide the services to the city, which includes the improvement of our water system.”

When asked if this proposed development would be beneficial to the Treeline/Daniels area if the project winds up going forward, Bonk took a short pause.

“I think that, umm…the need is there for housing. I’m not sure this is the best place for that to go from a public safety standpoint,” said Bonk.

Councilwoman Bonk says the city is working on expanding current water plants, replacing water piping throughout Fort Myers, and that discussions of building new water plants are ongoing.

The next city council meeting will be on Monday, August 15 at 4:40 pm to consider allowing for the advertisement of future land use on the 19 parcels of land.

From the Aug. 15 agenda:
PERMISSION TO ADVERTISE

6.1. Permission to advertise Ordinance No. 3949 amending the Future Land Use Map to change 64.29 acres, more or less, from Lee County Tradeport to the City’s Traditional Community (T/C) Future Land Use designation (Quasi-Judicial) (Ward 6) (Steven Belden, Community Development)

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