A Ft. Myers development proposal may be the first gauge of the Gulf Coast's post-Ian approach
Most of Hurricane Ian’s destruction on Florida’s Gulf Coast was caused by water and storm surge — and that’s made many residents more wary of the coastal development plans that have become so common there, including one that officials will vote on next month.
For the past few years, Fort Myers residents have debated a 36-acre coastal development proposal on property known as Eden Oak. The re-zoning would allow for clearing mangroves to make way for more than 50 homes and a dock facility.
The project provides new housing for Lee County — which is among the ten fastest-growing counties in the U.S. But many people who live near the Shell Point site say it will strip the area of the sort of storm surge buffer they needed a lot more of during Hurricane Ian.
That’s evident now as streets in and around the Shell Point community are strewn with furniture, carpeting and dry wall from retirement and other residential units ruined by storm flooding, mostly from the Caloosahatchee River.
Even before the hurricane, the Lee County Examiner in August recommended against the Eden Oak re-zoning plan. But next month, on November 2, the proposal is up for a vote in the Lee County Board of County Commissioners — and environmentalists, including the local Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation — worry commissioners may still approve it.
Either way, Eden Oak may be the first gauge of how Ian’s destruction has — or hasn’t — changed the Gulf coast’s relatively unbridled approach to development.
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