A proposed residential development on the northeast corner of Treeline Avenue and Daniels Parkway in Fort Myers was met with overwhelming opposition by hundreds of community members and some local government leaders.
The developers, The Davis Group, asked Fort Myers City Council for permission Monday night to advertise the amendment of the future land use map to change the 64 acres to the city’s traditional community land use from tradeport.
“The biggest concern I have is that this was brought before the planning board and was denied in planning,” council member Darla Bonk said. “I would like to see this brought back before the planning board with other ideas before it’s submitted to council even for permission to advertise.”
The proposal was brought to the planning board during a public hearing on March 2, where a motion was made to recommend approval of the request, which failed by a 4-3 vote.
Many residents from Wednesday’s meeting attended Monday’s city council meeting to reiterate their concerns directly to city leaders.
Carole Brokke, president of the Pelican Preserve Residents Alliance, said the rezoning of the 64 acres is not in the best interest of the Ward 6 residents’ health and safety. She added the uncertainty of the entire plot of land, considering there is only a plan for the 45-acre proposed residential community, leaving the rest of the commercial side of the project unknown.
“I ask the city council to not move forward on the rezoning by allowing the rezoning to a traditional community category that then leads to commercial intensive,” she said. “There’s no going back. There’s no redo. There’s no future oversight.”
Infrastructure issues, including roads and water supply, were highlighted again, along with the need for more green space in the district.
Lee County Commissioner and Chairman Cecil Pendergrass asked council to support council member Bonk’s Ward 6. “You may not live in this district, but you will drive down Daniels Parkway when you go to the airport, the doctor or some services, and you will see what impact this will make,” Pendergrass said.
Despite the prevalent pushback, the developers and their representatives attempted to make their case to the council.
“This is a request for permission to advertise,” attorney Neale Montgomery said. “The council tonight is not being asked to approve zoning and not being asked to approve a land-use category; you’re being asked to move this to a public hearing.”
Alexis Crespo, vice president of planning at RVI and part of the project team, acknowledged all the work and collaboration that had to be done between developers, residents and city leaders.
“We know when we come back to you, we’re going to need to have firm commitments to address compatibility,” she said. “We are ready to take these matters on and bring forth to you all your proposal for government that makes sense in this arterial intersection but also respects transition to the lower density residential neighborhoods around us.”
Brent Davis, partner at The Davis Group, said more product is required to bring down the issue of a lack of housing in the area and high rent prices.
Arborwood Preserve resident Ray Yi bought his house in 2018 and has since seen a lot of growth in the Treeline corridor.
“We’re not against growth, but there has to be controlled growth,” he said. “It might be best at this time to not proceed with developing this parcel. Let’s wait and see. We have a lot of other developments that are currently underway that will bring more homeowners and renters.”
A motion for approval of permission to advertise was tied Monday night with a 3-3 vote, with Mayor Kevin Anderson and council members Bonk and Liston Bochette as the three nay votes. The motion ultimately failed because of Anderson’s vote taking precedence in the absence of council member Terolyn Watson.