Lee County exiting Regional Planning Council

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Southwest Florida Regional Planning Commission Chairman Jim Burch

FORT MYERS, Fla. The Lee County Commission is ending its partnership with the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council.

Commissioners voted 3-1 Tuesday to pull out, effective a year from now, amid disagreements over the cost of membership and the council’s execution of its mission. Commissioner Frank Mann cast the lone dissenting vote.

“We urge them to reconsider what they’ve decided,” council chairman Jim Burch said.

The council, created in 1973, brings together Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades, Hendry and Sarasota counties “to work together across neighboring communities to consistently protect and improve the unique and relatively unspoiled character of the physical, economic and social worlds we share for the benefit of our future generations,” according to the council’s website.

The loss of Lee County would increase the taxpayer cost of growth and development projects, Burch said. The council gave county commissioners a list of council projects that have benefited the county over the years.

Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman

County commissioner Brian Hamman argues the council has strayed from its mission and that Lee County can do well enough on its own. The county has paid $425,576 in membership dues the past three years.

“The regional planning council is a bureaucracy that has, unfortunately, become obsolete,” he said.


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