September 14, 2003
So often itís easy to get caught up in the environmental issues that are inherent in responsible growth. As important as this is, however, it is also important to recognize that there are many overlapping issues that impact. Foremost on our minds the last couple of months has been that of a communityís ability to determine its own direction responsibly and democratically.
When a community comes together and makes responsible decisions for its quality of life, such decisions should be supported and lauded, not challenged by moneyed interests. Currently, however, a handful of developers are trying to interfere with the most fundamental right of a community, the right to maintain its character and standard of living.
These challenges are taking place in the communities of Pine Island and Bayshore. In order to preserve their standards of living, the people of these communities have placed limits on the cancerous, unrestrained growth. They have prepared community plans with the input of the active residents of the area. Our Lee County Board of County Commissioners has approved these community plans.
These developers appear to be less concerned with responsible growth. Since the interests of the community are contrary to the interests of their profit margin, the community interest often are overridden. Some developers are putting pressure on these communities and the local government to change the community plans and to reopen the doors to rampant and irresponsible development.
The Responsible Growth Management Coalition believes that human interests come before business interests. We are intervening on behalf of Pine Island and are on record in support of Bayshore in their efforts to decide upon their own directions. The Pine Island intervention is of special significance to RGMC founding members, and current board members, Gene and Ellie Boyd who have a long history with the Pine Island Plan.
The RGMC extends this support to businesses that are committed to making responsible decisions. When Florida Power and Light decided to route their power line extensions around sensitive, public lands they found themselves under considerable legal pressure by powerful interests in Collier County to change their minds. FP & L, underwent a lengthy and productive public process to propose the most acceptable route for all residents of Southwest Florida, only to be challenged by a single, but very powerful company. These interests would apparently rather FP & L extend their lines through sensitive, public lands than to have these power lines in sight of their own properties. The RGMC has supported FP & L publicly and is prepared to support them legally if necessary.
As you can see, the RGMC is poised to undergo some very necessary, but potentially costly legal battles on these and perhaps other issues of concern to the membership. To be successful we rely solely on the help of our members. Fortunately, RGMC members have a history of generosity in the face of such challenges. Once again, we call upon this generosity to help us defend the right of Pine Island, Bayshore and FP & L to manage their own growth and to make responsible decisions. All communities are facing or will face similar challenges. What happens in the next few months will foreshadow what developers and our County Commissioners have in store for all of us in our own back yards. It will determine what will become of undeveloped lands that are necessary for the health of the entire Estero Bay Region. Donations can be made to the RGMC Inc. at the above address, and are tax deductible.
Of equal importance is membership. The RGMC devotes all of its resources, financial as well as human, to matters directly pertaining to responsible growth. However, we must grow as an organization in order to maximize the standing that we have in the area. We would like to challenge each of our members to share our organization with others and to encourage others to join us in our endeavors. If each member can convince at least on other person to join, this will double our membership. Remember, the more voices we have the louder we can shout! Those interested can use the enclosed membership form or they can print off their own form from the RGMC website. (www.rgmcswf.org)