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Next Siesta Isles phase reawakens

May 24, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

A development that's long lay dormant could been stirring again.

Siesta V. Land Trust, care of Chris Claussen of Naples, has applied to the Army Corps of Engineers to re-authorize an expired permit to clear, dredge and fill wetlands between Bunche Beach and Old Pelican Bay to build an up-scale, single-family housing development.

According to the Corps public notice about the application, Siesta V is a part of the Siesta Isles subdivision constructed in the 1960s. This collection of properties making up V wrap around the north and west sides of the Old Pelican Bay neighborhood.

Article Photos

The Siesta V development sits between Bunche Beach and the Siesta Isles and Old Pelican Bay communities. Map courtesy of the Lee County Property Appraiser.

The developer has owned the property for 40 years and has revised the project scope multiple times over the years. The first time in 1999, the plan called for 47 lots. In 2003, the number was reduced to 41. Then the developer applied for the construction permit to the Corps in Sept. 2009 with a plan to build 28 units and an access road, with no boat docks. This permit was approved, however the project never moved forward and the permit expired in 2014.

The developer is seeking the same permit again, still with 28 units to be built on the 110-acre site. According to the Corps report, a majority of that acreage - 103 acres - is wetlands, tidal flats and creeks, mangrove wetlands and a 0.92-acre of "highly disturbed wetlands." The report says that the 6 acres of upland habitat and some of the wetlands "are infested to varying degrees" with invasive or exotic vegetation such as Brazilian pepper. These "disturbed" areas are what the developer plans to build on, and the report states the project plan would permanently impact 3 of 85 acres of mangrove wetlands, but that the 82 remaining acres would be preserved and have been protected by a conservation easement.

In exchange for this impact - the same impact as the former application in 2009 - the developer already provided mitigation in 2009 and is requesting that purchase remain valid.

The land is currently held in a trust managed by Attorney Charles R. Meador, Jr., Fort Myers Beach. Meador did not return a phone call to discuss the project.

Meador applied to Lee County in January for an extension of a previous development order, extending it to 2020.

This project has a long paper trail with the county after several attempts to develop the land. Meador successfully got the land rezoned in 2002 from agricultural land to residential planned development.

At this point, the Army Corps, along with other federal and state agencies, will now review the developer's application for impacts to endangered species, historic preservation needs, and fish habitat locations, among other protections, said Nakeir Nobles, spokeswoman for the Corps, in an email.

"Final permit decisions are not made until we have the findings of those agencies. If those agencies have objections, the applicants have to resolves those issues with the perspective agencies," Nobles said. "If not resolved, the application is denied without prejudice."



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