News Press

 

December 15, 2016

 

Some Matlacha residents furious with Cape Coral annexation

 

By FRANK BUMB

 

Some residents in Matlacha and Pine Island are furious with the city of Cape Coral over the annexation of six city-owned parcels near the bay island community.

 

So much so that Roger Wood, president of the Greater Pine Island Civic Association, sent out an email requesting input and attendance at a series of meetings exploring the possibility of incorporating Pine Island and Matlacha.

 

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“As a result of the city of Cape Coral’s decision to annex parts of Matlacha, the residents of Greater Pine Island and Matlacha are being called to assemble, discuss, and decide on what we as a community want for our future,” Wood said.

 

On Monday, Cape Coral City Council voted 4-3 to approve the annexation of six parcels – about 5.4 acres of land – along Pine Island Road as it travels from Cape Coral to Matlacha proper and Pine Island. Council members Jessica Cosden, Richard Leon and Rick Williams opposed the ordinance. Mayor Marni Sawicki and council members John Carioscia, Rana Erbrick and Marilyn Stout voted to approve. Councilman Jim Burch was absent.

 

The purpose of the annexation was to put the land under city zoning, future land use and other regulations. A three-boat ramp marina is a possibility for the site.

 

That vote came after Wood and about 20 other speakers took to the podium to beg, argue and demand Cape City Council reconsider annexing the six parcels. Some speakers wanted the council to delay its decision until after the holidays, others proposed the city sell the land to a conservancy to prevent environmental damage. Almost all of the speakers spoke of concerns that the parcels would be developed leading to increased traffic, difficulties for first responders getting out to Matlacha and Pine Island and environmental damage.

 

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Before that vote, Williams – whom one speaker said had a “great reputation” among Pine Island and Matlacha residents – proposed the city postpone the vote to Feb. 6 primarily to address the concerns of the Matlacha residents because there was a prevalence of “misinformation.” That motion failed with only Cosden and Williams supporting it.

 

City Manager John Szerlag gave a presentation, arguing that annexation did not guarantee development of the parcels nor that the move was an initial move leading to the annexation of Matlacha.

 

"There are no plans to annex Matlacha," Szerlag said in his presentation. “In the absence of a voluntary annexation request, an attempt to do so would require a referendum of the residents of Matlacha. A simple majority of residents would be required to validate the annexation.”

 

Leon said he was initially for the annexation but said he wanted the city to consider doing the “neighborly” thing and sell the land to a buyer that would take into account the concerns of Matlacha and Pine Island residents. Erbrick countered, saying the residents likely could not stop a developer from developing the land if it remained in unincorporated Lee County.

 

Wood and several other speakers said their concerns were only heightened by the city’s moves to develop Seven Islands, seven barrier islands in Northwest Cape Coral. The city’s drive for development, several speakers said, was emblematic of an attitude that was incompatible with how Matlacha and Pine Island residents see themselves.

 

"We have an island attitude. We will fight on all fronts to maintain it,” Wood said.

 

 

COMMENTS

 

Dave Lukasek

We did an incorporation study over ten years ago. It was the late Phil Buchanan who convinced his lemmings on the GPICA not to even bring it to the membership. Now it's too late to save eeastern Matlacha.

Like · Reply · 1 · Dec 15, 2016 12:41pm

 

Edward Franks ·

Editor at Pine Island Eagle, Bokeelia, FL

People aren't 'lemmings" because they have an opinion different from yours.

Like · Reply · 1 · Dec 15, 2016 4:52pm

 

Richard Kast

When one looks at Cape Coral and it's industry, sickening to be sure. We don't need another piece of someone's property without building Cape Coral to have an employment base and I am not talking about the minimum wages we have on Pine Island and Veterans. Those wages will not support this city and that is why we are supporting the City of Fort Myers and the surrounding areas. Would you not think that this council would look at this city and realize we have no basic employment structure and stop adding taxes to everyone's bill to support the city. This City is only built on the back of property taxes not commercial of anything worth talking about.

Like · Reply · 1 · Dec 15, 2016 8:33pm

 

Robert E. Dudley ·

University of Florida

Cape Coral owns the 6 parcels involved...they are not "over the bridge". We do not want to annex Matlacha...we have loons enough of our own!

Like · Reply · 1 · Dec 15, 2016 7:22pm

 

Mike Downing ·

3M Health Care Director at Retired

Not yet...

Like · Reply · Dec 16, 2016 9:01am

 

Robert E. Dudley ·

University of Florida

Mike Downing CC can't annex unless the residents request it...the 6 lots belong to the City of Cape Coral

Like · Reply · Dec 16, 2016 9:40am

 

John Lambert ·

Works at CSC

Not sure why Cape Coral would want the 6 parcels of land. Why expand?

Like · Reply · Dec 19, 2016 12:33pm

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