Important Vote Wednesday.

Speak to Protect Lee County Wetlands at BoCC Vote Dec. 18.

What’s at Stake:
Voting on a Comprehensive Plan amendment that incentivizes commercial and industrial development on wetlands.

When:
Wednesday, December 18 at 9:30 a.m.

Where:
Comprehensive Plan Hearing, 2120 Main Street, Fort Myers (map)

What You Can Do:
Attend and Speak

In Short

The Board of County Commissioners will vote on adopting the Impacted Wetlands Comprehensive Plan amendment, which will open wetlands to non-residential development.

We are writing to strongly support of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s position on CPA 2019-0001 Impacted Wetlands Adoption to not adopt this amendment because it will open wetlands to non-residential development in a manner currently prohibited by the Lee Plan.

This proposed modified amendment takes Lee County in an entirely wrong direction. There is no reason given as to why it is necessary, prudent, or wise to assign the non-residential floor area to impacted wetlands.

The scheduled vote by the Board of County Commissioners to adopt the Impacted Wetlands Comprehensive Plan is Wednesday, December 18 at the Board’s Comprehensive Plan and Zoning meeting.

Lee County does not lack the non-residential floor area, and like the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, we believe that the parcels most suitable for non-residential development are not parcels where wetlands will be impacted. Wetland impacts adversely affect native species, disrupt flood control patterns, degrade water quality, increase saltwater intrusion, and decrease aquifer recharge. The Lee Plan protects wetlands; this amendment is poised to incentivize the destruction of wetlands.

It is imperative for public safety and welfare in terms of water quality that the destruction of wetlands is not incentivized. The best way to protect wetlands is to clarify or create incentives for preservation, restoration, and hydrological reconnection. Geographically isolated wetlands are vital to fish and wildlife habitats that are also important to the community.

These isolated wetlands are often vulnerable because they are surrounded by uplands, and adjacent land uses can encroach on the wetland. It has been found that isolated wetlands play an outsized role in providing clean water even though they often lack the regulatory protections of other wetlands. These benefits include sediment and carbon retention, nutrient transformation, and water quality improvement.

Geographically isolated wetlands are rarely functionally isolated. Even though the impact of each individual permit may not be large, the cumulative impacts of the proposed policy changes are devastating.

Again, the scheduled vote by the Board of County Commissioners to adopt the Impacted Wetlands Comprehensive Plan is Wednesday, December 18 at the Board’s Comprehensive Plan and Zoning meeting. Please attend and express your views.