Pine Island Plan Rewrite

The Pine Island Plan rewrite has worked its way through the various advisory committees and is now nearly ready for review and approval by the county commissioners. The commissioner approval process will involve probably four public meetings perhaps beginning on January 6, 2016. Without a doubt, the process will result in approval of the rewrite.

The commissioners ordered the rewrite by a five to zero vote, so Pine Island had no choice but to make the best of what we could. The rewrite will eventually create more development on Pine Island and more traffic through Matlacha. I do not however expect our rate of growth to increase much beyond our historical two percent, which amounts to some 80 to 100 new houses each year.

The Pine Island Land Use Planning Committee worked with the county staff to salvage what we could of the old Plan and keep the new rules from going too far. The county staff did a good job, and in fact kept the height restriction and other rules unique to Pine Island. They also (bless their hearts) rejected the idea of a new bridge.

The Pine Island Committee and the county staff did however have a disagreement about open space requirements in new housing developments. Last Monday, the Local Planning Agency (the primary advisory committee for Land Plan changes) agreed with Pine Island and asked that the following sentence be added to the rewrite: “Open space must be located outside housing lots and be spaced on road–front between housing lots.”

During the next few weeks, the county staff will deal with the Pine Island and LPA recommendation and prepare the final text to go before the commissioners. We’ll monitor the process and keep Pine Islanders informed.

Within the next few months, we will see the rewrite become law. It won’t be something to celebrate, nor will it be anything to get really upset about. It will just be an occasion to recognize that to best protect Pine Island; we have to sometimes be prepared to compromise with the developer-controlled political machine called the Florida Government.

Phil Buchanan