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Planning Committee holds first meeting

May 27, 2015
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Monday night, nearly 150 islanders assembled at Fisher's of Men Lutheran Church for the first meeting of the Pine Island Planning Committee. The purpose of the meeting was to nominate and elect members to the Planning Commission Board and various liaison and project positions.

"This committee is our way of being prepared when they come back with something that's not going to be very good," moderator Phil Buchanan said concerning the county and Pine Island Plan. "We need to be ready for whatever they propose. We want to be organized and have our research done.

"I'd like to offer a little background history. This is not the first time we have had to defend the Pine Island Plan against Bert Harris Claims," Buchanan said. "It's actually the third time. The first time was an administrative law procedure when we first adopted the plan. The Greater Pine island Civic Association and I brought legal action. The Greater Pine Island Agriculture and Land Owners Association objected to the plan. Lee County was forced to defend that action in a two year legal battle the other side surrendered and we won on Christmas Eve 2004.

"Then there was a second Circuit Court lawsuit claiming all zoning laws and all land use laws are unconstitutional and landowners had the legal right to do what they want with their property without any restrictions. This didn't go very far.

"This is the third set of claims," Buchanan continued. "Claims are just that, claims. They just sit there until you file a lawsuit, The reason there are these lawsuits now is simple. It's because of political timing."

The "Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act" was passed by the Florida legislature in 1995. In the law "the Legislature recognizes that some laws, regulations, and ordinances of the state and political entities in the state, as applied, may inordinately burden, restrict, or limit private property rights without amounting to a taking under the State Constitution or the United States Constitution."

"The Legislature determines that there is an important state interest in protecting the interests of private property owners from such inordinate burdens. Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature that, as a separate and distinct cause of action from the law of takings, the Legislature herein provides for relief, or payment of compensation, when a new law, rule, regulation, or ordinance of the state or a political entity in the state, as applied, unfairly affects real property."

"(2) When a specific action of a governmental entity has inordinately burdened an existing use of real property or a vested right to a specific use of real property, the property owner of that real property is entitled to relief, which may include compensation for the actual loss to the fair market value of the real property caused by the action of government, as provided in this section."

According to County Attorney Richard Wesch, Lee County has the following active Bert Harris Pine Island litigation cases in the Circuit Court of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit in Lee County, Florida: Cammilot Partners, LLC v. Lee County, Case No. 09-CA-5630, Sabasa Pass Grove, Inc. v. Lee County, Case No. 09-CA-5722, Sipperelle Palms, LLC v. Lee County, Case No. 09-CA-5720, William Wright, et al. v. Lee County, Case No. 09-CA-5721, Breese Rusk Glennon v. Lee County, Case No. 09-CA-4630, Breese Rusk Glennon v. Lee County, Case No. 09-CA-5634, Dean & Dean Farms, Ltd. v. Lee County, Case No. 09-CA-5723, Dean & Dean Farms, Ltd. v. Lee County, Case No. 09-CA-5724.

Buchanan nominated the following people for the eight key board positions (plus the honorary chairman) and then asked for a vote. The vote was a unanimous "yes" for all positions.

Pine Island Planning Committee

Executive Positions:

Honorary Chairman: Bill Spikowski (author of the Pine Island Plan)

Co-Chairmen: Buchanan (moderator) and Roger Wood (Liaison to GPICA)

Scribe: Andrea Hendrickson (takes notes at membership meetings)

Registrar: Renee Pollack (registers members, project volunteers, and liaisons)

Webmaster: Tim Heitz (maintains

Social Media: Renee Pollack (administers Pine Island Plan Group)

Project Manager: Carol Crane (coordinates all projects)

Director of Research: Claudia Brindle (conducts and helps others with research)

Exchequer: Susie Quattro

Buchanan called for volunteer liaisons for various organizations: HOAs, water company, St. James City Civic Association, St. Jude Harbors, Flamingo Bay, Pine Island Village, Sierra Club, River Watch and Watershed Council, Audubon and various boat clubs.


GPICA - Roger Wood

SJCCA - Shari Perkins

St. Jude Harbor - Marty Kendall

Pine Island Boat Club - Jane and Bob Watson

St. James City Boat Club - Jane and Bob Watson

Pine Island Village HOA - Sonny Koutsoutis

Flamingo Bay Residents' Association - Marilyn Moore

MOTE Labs - Sue Monaco

Lee County - Kathy Malone

Pine Island Cove- Barbara Covitz

Sierra Club (local and state) - Ruth Scott

Riverwatch Watershed Council - Mary Rawl

Audubon - Gary Pierson

Manager of all Pine Island HOAs - Elizabeth Waschpusch

A number of research projects were established where members volunteered to investigate: evacuation capabilities, Purchase of Development Rights and Transfer of Development Rights, making Matlacha (Pine Island Road) a 3 or 4 lane road, potential damage to protected species, Coastal High Hazard Zone restrictions, FEMA restrictions, sea level rise, donations to politicians, land plan change procedures, Lee Plan restrictions, state statutes, data and analysis requirements, water supply, school capacity, school busing through Matlacha, sewage capacity, electrical capacity and Bert Harris claimants (51).

Research Projects

Overall Project Manager - Carol Crane

New Bridge Costs - Carol Crane

Evacuation Safety - Claudia

PDR/TRD Possibilities - Elizabeth Waschpusch

Traffic Count through Matlacha - Rod Aldrich

Possibility of 3 or 4-laning through Matlacha - Jim Renolds

Damages to Protected Species - Carol Crane

Coastal High Hazard Zone Restrictions - Sue Dahod

FEMA Restrictions - Sue Dahod

Drinking Water - Linda Kutney

Sewage Capacity - Linda Kutny and Pam Young

Electricity Capacity - Pam Young

Sea level Change/Rise - Pam Young

Ocean/Sound Water Quality Issues - Liz Donley

Public Records of BOCC Requests - Scott Wilkerson

Lee Plan Restrictions - Peter Blood

Bert Harris Claimants - Joan Clay

Public Records of Donations to Politicians - Bruce Nanzer and Maria Gajewski

School Capacity/Busing - Dan Foote

Disaster EMS Response time - Rod Aldrich

Contact Surrounding Planning Committees - Dan Fischer

Brochures, Media, Signs - Rachi Farrow, Dan Palma, Steve Ward

Pine Island Flag - Cesar Sanchez

The meeting concluded with a brief discussion about creating a Pine Island Flag. Cesar Sanchez volunteered to begin accepting contest entries for the flag.

"I'd like to thank everyone for coming out tonight," Buchanan said. "This is the first step for us to keep Pine Island as it is."



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