Close this search box.

Log in

Top Stories

After some whispering between Lee County staff and a representative of Mike Greenwell, the rezoning of the Lee County commissioner’s land happened fast.  

With Greenwell having left the room, recused from voting on his own property, Lee County Commissioners Brian Hamman, Cecil Pendergrass and Kevin Ruane voted to approve up to a 400,000-square-foot shopping center and up to a 122-unit apartment complex on 76 acres off State Road 31, just over the Wilson Pigott Bridge on the north side of the Caloosahatchee River.  

The land previously had been zoned for agriculture.  

As soon as Commissioner Ray Sandelli asked for a motion to deny the rezoning application, future Lee County Manager Dave Harner entered the room, waved for Deputy County Manager Marc Mora to approach and whispered something to him.  

Mike Greenwell

Mora then walked back and whispered something to one of Greenwell’s representatives, who then immediately offered to drop the maximum height of the future buildings from 60 feet to 45 feet.  

Harner and Mora could not be reached for comment. 

The Board approved the rezoning 3-1, with Sandelli maintaining his “no” vote. 

Eleven Alva residents and two other community members spoke against the rezoning during the public comment portion of the hearing with each of them using most, if not all, of their allotted 5 minutes.  

No Alva residents spoke in favor of the rezoning.  

“I feel they just gave us an appeasement,” Alva resident Denise Eberle said of the commissioners lowering the maximum height by 15 feet. “That’s all.”  

Alva has about 6,500 residents, a number that will continue to inflate if other, nearby residential rezoning projects are approved.  

SR 31 will be a “failing road,” Lee County staff said, upon completion of the Greenwell project if no improvements are made. Hamman said a state law was passed prohibiting a “no” vote based solely on traffic concerns.  

The property also has wetlands on it and is considered a coastal high hazard area by the federal government.  

Gulfshore Business sought comment from each of the commissioners on their reasons for approval and denial. So far, only Pendergrass could be reached for comment.  

“My vote was based on the hearing examiner and staff recommendations, which include legal and competent, substantial evidence,” Pendergrass said. “My votes have and always will be based on legal, competent and substantial evidence as presented and not who the applicant is or anyone’s political or emotional motives.”  

The Alva residents said they wished their emotional motives would have been considered.  

“It’s disheartening,” Eberle said of the approval. “It’s destructive. It just destroys the rural community from now on. That means any other developer can come in and do the same thing. That set a precedent. We can pretty much say goodbye to our rural community because they’re going to come in like gangbusters. And with this commission, it’s going to be almost impossible to protect.”  

Brian Farrar, president of BCF Management Group, which works to entitle land for future uses, such as commercial development, represented Greenwell, who could not be reached for comment.  

Although the land has been rezoned, the next steps could take many months, if not years, to develop there, Farrar said.  

Farrar also said he had no idea what future users would occupy the commercial space. It all has yet to be decided.  

“I’m satisfied with the staff’s recommendation,” Farrar said. “We’re happy with the overall decisions being made.” 


Copyright 2024 Gulfshore Life Media, LLC All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent.

Don't Miss

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Please note that article corrections should be submitted for grammar or syntax issues.

If you have other concerns about the content of this article, please submit a news tip.