Cape Coral Daily Breeze
December 19, 2016
Island residents protest
Group of Pine Islanders object to Cape Coralís annexation of lots in Matlacha
By ED FRANKS (firstname.lastname@example.org), Cape Coral Daily Breeze
On Monday, Dec. 12, the Cape Coral City Council voted to annex five lots on Matlacha Island to the city. In the days following the meeting, Pine Island residents organized a series of meetings and a protest rally in an attempt to reverse the council's decision.
Pine Island/Matlacha residents Michael Dreikorn, Roger Wood, Mike Hannon and Birdi Smock led the first meeting, forming an unofficial "Don't Annex Matlacha" Committee. The meeting at Fire Station #1 Wednesday afternoon and the group asked for volunteers to head various leadership positions: record keeping, communications, legal and environmental initiatives.
A discussion on the annexation issue was also held.
"When Cape Coral announced that at their council meeting last Monday that they were going to annex part of Matlacha, they put a tiny notice in the paper," Dreikorn, the president of the Bokeelia Civic Association, said at the meeting. "We were told we would have this one time to speak out before the vote was taken. There must have been 30 of us there to talk about our opposition to the annexation but we were forced to wait 2 1/2 hours to address the council. And when we did, they told us they don't care about us because we are not their citizens. This is a government that doesn't represent us. The government that represents us is the Lee County government."
"I have a little background from the Northwest Cape Coral Homeowners Association," Greater Pine Island Civic Association president Roger Wood said. "When the city of Cape Coral was making decisions on the Seven Island's project, the NWHA was offered an opportunity to tell the council what they would like to see there. The NWHA suggested possibly a park and if buildings were going to be part of the project that they have minimal impact on the environment and be no higher than 2 or 3 stories. The council came back with an 8-story plan. If the council won't even consider the wishes of their own citizens, they're not going to listen to us. They went so far at the council meeting to say they don't represent us."
Cape Coral released the following broadcast statement: "This annexation is bringing six parcels of land owned by the City of Cape Coral into the City limits. The parcels must be annexed into Cape Coral for the City's zoning and land use regulations to apply. The property is contiguous to the City boundary, and this annexation process has been vetted through legal channels at the City and County levels."
In a letter to the City Council, Pine Island resident Hannon said he asked several questions about the above statement and as of Monday, the city had not responded.
A protest rally took place on the Matlacha Bridge Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Approximately 40-50 people arrived with signs.
"Cape Coral bought those parcels with UEP Utility Expansion Project taxpayer funds," Pine Island resident Carol Crane said. "I've been told that Miceli's Restaurant offered $1 million to Cape Coral for one lot but the Cape refused."
"Meetings are planned to organize the effort to force the Cape to reverse their annexation," Wood said. "Boaters call that area 'Crash Corner' because of the high velocity of the currents there. At times the boat traffic is excessive there and a danger to public health and property values. If the Cape plans to build three new boat ramps, that will only make matters worse."
The property is adjacent to a canal that leads to the ecologically sensitive area Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve. One suggestion is to sell the property to the Calusa Land Trust for conservancy.
"The Cape says this is contiguous," Crane said. "But it is not contiguously connected to Cape Coral. It is in between Matlacha Isles and Matlacha Shores and would create an enclave of Matlacha Isles. We are asking for it to be made into a park."
Followup meetings are being scheduled. Islanders can keep updated on Facebook at "Pine Island Strong."