Our Wetlands Need You

Lee County Commissioners are poised to decide whether to retain local control over non-residential development in Lee County’s wetlands, or give up their home rule authority by deferring to state agencies when commercial or industrial projects want to impact wetland resources. The first of two hearings will take place on May 22, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. The proposed changes to the Lee Plan would allow construction of commercial and/or industrial projects on wetlands if a state permit is obtained. Currently, non-residential development is not allowed as a land use in wetlands, and residential development is only allowed on a very limited basis. These amendments pave the way for destruction of wetlands that currently are protected by the Lee Plan. Don’t be fooled by the amendment title of “Impacted Wetlands”. This policy targets all wetlands, including those that are 100% pristine.

The recent water quality crisis, which includes red tide, blue green algae, and impaired waterways, has illuminated the need for solutions, and one solution is to protect areas of native habitat, especially wetlands, which help to store and treat storm water runoff. Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. Over time, many wetlands have been filled and drained through both residential and non-residential development. The remaining wetlands are critical to the protection of our water resources including improving water quality and storing floodwaters. Wetlands play an important role in the ecology of a watershed, and provide value that no other ecosystem can.

Currently, Lee County is able to help shape its future through strict land use regulations within wetlands. This is the job of local government. For Lee County to hand over their authority to determine what level of intensity is appropriate in wetlands, and how such proposals are compatible with community character, takes us in the entirely wrong direction.

Please attend the Zoning and Lee Plan Amendment Hearing on May 22, 2019, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Old County Courthouse at 2120 Main Street, Fort Myers, FL, 33901 and sign up to speak to ask the Commissioners to vote NO on this amendment that would increase the vulnerability of Lee County’s wetlands being converted to non-residential development. In addition, please contact the Commissioners and express your opposition to this destructive wetland policy.