Caloosa 80: The Responsible Decision

Submitted By: ALVA INC.

ACTION REQUESTED: On March 25th, the Lee County Planning Agency (LPA) will be deciding to approve an amendment to the water and sewer service areas for another portion of the Alva Community. While water and sewer service is sometimes considered an upgrade to the community and to civilization in general, it is a canary in the coal mine for rural communities and overdevelopment. The approval of such an amendment will no doubt lead to increased density. As described in the public notice for the hearing, it will seek to change 93 acres from the Rural Land Use Category to the Sub-Outlying Suburban Future Land Use category, paving the way for increased density. If you wish to have a word on this decision, please attend the meeting on the 25th at Administration East Building (Room 118), ​​2201 Second St., at 9:00 am. This will be your opportunity to ask the planning panel to refrain from the amendment.

History of the project: Way back in 2008, the planned development of Caloosa 80 had been approved for a development that would include 400 RV lots that average 1 dwelling unit per acre, consistent with the Rural Land Use Category and Alva’s Community Plan. Now, they would like to add 30,000 sq ft of commercial space and increase the RV lots to 700, nearly doubling the already approved use of the property. Many people in the area wonder why we cannot leave the existing entitlements in place and go forward with the original plan.

Why should the community care about this? There are a host of reasons why people need to be aware of Caloosa 80 and its potential impact on the community.

The property today is adjacent to Hickey Creek Mitigation Park. Hickey Creek Mitigation Park began in 1994 as a gopher tortoise mitigation park. Developers from other areas in Lee County could relocate sensitive wildlife to the area (as an offsite alternative to rare species impacted by development). This created a habitat for rare wildlife, plants, and trees to be protected.  The park is home to threatened and endangered wildlife, including the Florida panthers, wood storks, snail kite, and the Florida scrub jay.

With the current request and plan, the landowner seeks to clear-cut the property, eliminating the habitats of the animals that reside there, including the species listed above. Less than 30 feet separate the mitigation park from the proposed development, and on any day, you can see wood storks, kites, and scrub jays on the proposed development site.

In addition to the environmental impacts listed above, there are other concerning features with developing this property.  The area directly adjacent to the property is part of the HickeyCreek Floodway (FEMA flood map). It is a sensitive area that saw dramatic flooding with both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Ian. The property today operates as a natural basin that blunts the impacts of heavy rain or flooding by first flooding the pastures and cypress swamps. The developer had indicated that they would dig a series of lakes on the property (presumably for the fill required to raise the property to a buildable level.) In addition, they described the construction of high berms along Bateman Rd as part of the stormwater retention plan for the property. The construction of these berms will change the current flow of water and could have a magnification impact, given the proximity to the Hickey’s Creek Floodway.

Included with the application is a request for 30,000 sq ft of commercial space adjacent to Palm Beach Blvd (SR-80). In the previously approved plans, commercial space was allowed in the interior of the project to accommodate the needs of the residents and was intended solely for the use of the residents. Given the requirements of FDOT for SR-80, there would be a single entrance/exit for the park and to access the commercial space. The presence of the commercial space and the single entry to create access on a high-speed principal arterial will create additional traffic hazards. Congestion on the roadway due to variance in speed increases accident rates and congestion.

Join the conversation in person and let your input on this transformational project be heard on March 25th, Administration East Building (Room 118), ​​2201 Second St., at 9:00 am.

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