Residents debate over South Seas Island Resort’s expansion. What to know

Reporter: Kellie Miller Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

South Seas Island Resort on Captiva wants to build up, but neighbors on Sanibel and Captiva believe that’s only going to bring island life down.

On Wednesday, islanders and city leaders spoke about the proposal in which South Seas asks Lee County to redefine how height is measured on Captiva.

David Mintz, vice president of the Captiva Community Panel, explained Wednesday that the current building code allows structures to be built 28-feet above the base flood elevation, which is two stories. If commissioners approve the proposal, South Seas could build up to 75-feet. This would nearly triple the height of buildings. The proposal could also exempt South Seas from density restrictions.

Then, on Thursday, an attorney representing 16 Sanibel-Captiva organizations sent a letter to the Lee County commissioners, who are supposed to vote on the proposal June 20 at a public hearing.

The attorney explains that South Seas violated policy by bypassing the Captiva Community Panel and going directly to Lee County.

“He lays out the argument that the correct legal process was not followed, so therefore, setting a public hearing should not have occurred,” Lisa Riordan from Captiva Civic Association said.

WINK News then asked, “However, you all are acting as if this public hearing is going to happen, and you all need to be ready?”

“Yes, we definitely need to be ready,” Riordan responded. “As we sit here today, this public hearing is going forward, so we are asking, and continue to ask, as many residents and businesses and organizations to speak in opposition to this.”

WINK News tried to get a response from the Lee County commissioners on Friday. However, we only heard directly back from one, District Four Commissioner, Brian Hamman. In a text message, Hamman said the meeting is still happening next week on June 20. He also wrote, in part, “I will weigh all of the facts, consider all of the concerns and evaluate the evidence before making a decision.”

“What’s happening here to exempt one property from regulations that other business owners in the community have to follow is completely wrong,” Riordan said. “The community is angered by that.”

As a result, the Captiva Civic Association said the commissioners must vote no.

A member from the Captiva Community Panel said Wednesday, Lee County Commissioner Kevin Ruane is not on board with the proposal, and has committed to a no-vote on June 20. WINK News tried confirming that with the commissioner on Friday, but did not get a response.

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