Your Chance to Stop Large Scale Housing Development Along Corkscrew Road in the Density Reduction/ Groundwater Resource Area in Eastern Estero
On August 19, the Lee County Board of County Commissioners approved the Comprehensive Plan Amendment for Corkscrew Farms. This allowed the project to continue proceeding through the county’s planning process. The next step the developer is seeking is to rezone 1,361 acres from agricultural to Residential Planned Development (RPD) in order to allow development of up to 1,325 units dwelling units. The developer will be requesting this at a Zoning Hearing Examination on September 2 at 1 PM, 1500 Monroe Street, Ft Myers. The public can attend to provide its comments on the request.
- The approved plan will increase the number of housing units authorized on the property from 136 units to to 1,325 housing units, an increase of 1,189 units.
- In addition it will further authorize an Overlay that looks like an invitation for the future development of thousands more housing units along Corkscrew Road in what has been designated as the source of the water supply necessary for the predicted doubling of Lee County’s population over the next 30 to 40 years.
At our July meeting the members of the ECCL voted to oppose this development and its Overlay until a comprehensive traffic and environmental/water study has been completed.
- Providing testimony in person, or
- E-mailing the County Commissioners using the form below.
Personalize the suggested letter below by editing the text, then complete the form to encourage commissioners to protect the DR/GR from over-development.
Lee County Board of County Commissioners
2115 Second Street
Fort Myers, FL 33901
RE: Lee Comprehensive Plan Amendment, Corkscrew Farms, CPA2015-00001
I urge you to reject the Corkscrew Farms Comprehensive Plan amendment because it will begin the process of urban sprawl along Corkscrew Road, threatens the ecology, wetlands, and water supply of the Density Reduction/Groundwater Resource (DR/GR) area and will compound traffic congestion and safety on Corkscrew Road, at least until comprehensive traffic, environmental and water studies have been completed.
The closest part of Corkscrew Farms is 2 miles east of the easternmost border of the Corkscrew Shores and Wild Blue developments where the present county water and sewer service ends.
Since Corkscrew Farms borders Corkscrew Road for two full miles the extension of county water and sewer service to serve all of Corkscrew Farms would double the length of the existing trunk line from I-75. As a result, Corkscrew Farms and its water and sewer extension, if approved, would be the first domino leading to a major increase of urban sprawl in the environmentally sensitive DR/GR.
Although there are some properties along Corkscrew Road that are in public ownership for conservation and restoration purposes, there are many others along this stretch of Corkscrew Road that would be encouraged to follow Corkscrew Farms’ example.
Risk to the DR/GR
In 1989, most of southeast Lee County was designated by the County and State as a low density area and as the source of the County’s fresh water supply. Its value as wildlife habitat was affirmed.
Unlike the other recently initiated DR/GR developments, Corkscrew Shores and Wildblue, Corkscrew Farms is not on the western boundary of the DR/GR where water and sewer service is immediately available.
Because this land is located well inside the DR/GR area, under present zoning the developer is allowed to build only one housing unit per 10 acres, or 136 units. Instead the developer is asking the County for authorization to build up to 1,325 housing units, an increase of 1,189 units. In addition, the vast wetlands in this area store and cleanse the rainwater flowing from east to west that recharges our aquifers and helps to keep our rivers, streams, and Estero Bay cleaner and healthier and reducing the threat of flooding in downstream Estero and Bonita Springs
While the environmental restoration efforts proposed by the developer are admirable within the proposed property limits, the long term effects of the development outside its foot print are not clear. For example, while historic flow ways may be re-established across the property, that water will not continue off site to the south in a sheet flow manner. Instead, it will flow to a ditch along the south property line and Corkscrew Rd and flow to the west where it will all pass under the road in one stream.
Traffic Safety Concerns
Corkscrew Road was constructed to serve as a two lane farm agricultural service road. However, it now serves several large residential communities having dangerous access connections with Corkscrew Road. In the last few years the population served by the road has doubled with the addition of 1,900 housing units in Bella Terra and 441 units in The Preserve at Corkscrew. Construction has begun on another 648 housing units in Corkscrew Shores. In addition, three other housing developments, with over 1,700 housing units, are seeking County approval. They are Corkscrew Ranch, Wildblue and Corkscrew Crossing.
As a result, the County’s staff report on the Corkscrew Farms Comp Plan Amendment makes the following statements:
“While the traffic study indicates Corkscrew Road will operate at an acceptable LOS (Level Of Service) from Cypress Shadows Blvd to Alico Road, LCDOT staff is concerned that Corkscrew Road cannot accommodate the traffic from this project, and other nearby approved and proposed, projects”
This report also recommends a study to be completed by July 1, 2017 to determine what improvements will be needed on Corkscrew Road if a much larger development area is authorized. Thus, if Corkscrew Farms is approved, the County has signaled that the BoCC will approve even more development along Corkscrew Road in the DR/GR.
Corkscrew Farms is proceeding through the planning process as part of a new “Environmental Enhancement and Preservation Communities Overlay”. This overlay appears to have the potential to invite further residential development to a large area of the DR/GR along Corkscrew Road further intensifying the impact on Corkscrew Road traffic, our wetlands, water supply, and water quality.
I urge you to deny the Comp Plan Amendment for this development at this time, and instead, to immediately initiate comprehensive transportation, environmental, water quality and supply, and wildlife studies regarding the environmental overlay concept and transportation concerns so that the findings can be reviewed and debated by the public and key decision makers before any further development is approved.