May 24, 2003
Bernard Piawah, Planning Manager
Department of Community Affairs
Division of Research, Planning and Management
Dear Mr. Piawah:
I am writing this letter on behalf of the Responsible Growth Management Coalition in regard to proposed amendments to the City of Fort Myers Comprehensive Plan 02-MA-1 and 02-MA-2 known as the Parker Daniels and Palomino Projects.
projects were recently approved by the Fort Myers City Council, after
annexing the lands into the City, despite its location next to the Six
Mile Cypress Slough. These
projects would adversely affect the slough system and its economic value
for the citizens of
the public hearing before the Fort Myers City Council consultants for
Parker Daniels claimed that the proposed developments would be
consistent with other developments already approved by
slough’s hydrology, water quality, natural fire regime, habitat
composition and topography has been disturbed in these last thirteen
years. The DEP’s Impaired Water process has divided the Six Mile
Watershed into two water body ID’s.
Both ID’s were found to have dissolved oxygen below healthy
levels. The upper portion of
the slough was also found to be impaired due to high nutrient levels.
It is obvious to all concerned in
Of equal significance the subject parcel contains 274 acres of uplands that provide a buffer to the slough and a refuge for wildlife during high water. The subject parcel also includes 168 acres of wetlands that provide an important habitat for many wildlife species. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has designated a portion of this area as a Biodiversity Hotspot and determined that the site contains 7+ focal species, the highest rating available. Their Integrated Wildlife Habitat Ranking System gives a portion of this area the highest ranking of 10. Many federally and state protected species have been observed in the subject areas such as the bald eagle, snowy egret, great blue heron, green heron and white ibis. A Florida Black Bear also utilizes the Six Mile Cypress slough and is believed to forage on the subject parcels. With the wetlands removed from buildable lands, the density on the uplands may be much higher than the present allowed.
Six Mile Cypress slough is not just a sensitive and beautiful
wetland/upland environment. It
is, as Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah stated during the City Council
hearing, the Central Park of Lee County, serving City and county
residents and thousands of visitors to our unique environment.
The Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve attracts over 50,000
visitors a year. These
visitors come to observe the abundant wildlife and floral diversity of
the slough. A recent report
by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission states that
wildlife observation brings over $1.6 billion into
the environment suffers, the floral and faunal diversity declines;
visitors will no longer be inclined to come to the preserve.
The economic impact from this alone cannot be calculated.
Add on top of this that the Six Mile Cypress slough is within the
Estero Bay Watershed. Any
negative impact on the slough will be transferred to
Parker Daniels and Palomino projects are clearly in the private
interests of the owners without regard to the impacts on
Thank you for your time and attention in this matter.
Michael Andoscia M.A.
President: Responsible Growth Management Coalition