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Donate to Legal Fund To Protect Captiva

January 9, 2024
South Seas drone shot

Now that South Seas Island Resort has announced its intentions to radically increase density from 247 to 707 units with three-story buildings up to 64 feet in height – and now that our County Commissioners have paved the way for this overdevelopment on Captiva – it’s time for the “Protect Captiva” coalition to pursue every responsible legal option that we have the resources to undertake – which is why we’re seeking donations now.

The new owners of South Seas (Wheelock Street Capital, Timbers Resorts and The Ronto Group) have deep pockets. But our community has deeper concerns, a deeper understanding and commitment to Captiva, and a deeper trust in our community to protect itself. We also have the best attorneys who are lining up the best expert witnesses. We just need your generous contributions to the legal fund to take some or all of the following legal actions:

• Florida law provides the Captiva community with the right to challenge the changes in the Lee County Land Development Code that now exempt South Seas from Captiva’s height and density limitations. These Code changes are unlawfully inconsistent with the Captiva Chapter of the Lee Plan that our community worked so hard for decades to incorporate into the Lee Plan to protect our barrier island. We have just filed the required initial petition with the County, followed by a petition to the Florida Department of Commerce which could then lead to a formal administrative hearing under Florida law– including full pre-hearing trial motions, discovery and a final evidentiary hearing before an administrative law judge.

• Florida’s Constitution does not permit Lee County to amend the density standards in its Land Development Code to give itself and the Board of County Commissioners unbridled discretion to approve “any rental unit size or density” for the new South Seas hotels on Captiva. By now exempting South Seas from all definite standards for hotel density in a planned development on Captiva, the County subjects itself to a state constitutional claim which we can bring in a Lee County Circuit Court.

• The U.S. Constitution guarantees property owners on Captiva the right to equal protection under the law. Providing South Seas with greater density and height allowances than those granted to all other similarly-situated resorts and property owners on Captiva raises serious constitutional issues which we can raise in a federal lawsuit.

• Finally, while the Land Development Code amendments are being adjudicated in the courts, our community has the right to intervene as a party in the South Seas rezoning process which is “quasi-judicial” and takes place before a hearing examiner. During this process, we can present expert testimony to show that South Seas is not entitled to increased building heights and densities, and that its development projects are not compatible with Captiva’s minimal infrastructure, its water and environmental resources, its sewer system, its limited hurricane evacuation capability, and are otherwise not in compliance with relevant County requirements.

To guarantee that our community has the legal resources to undertake these legal options and to do whatever is necessary to protect Captiva, we need your support and contributions now. Any funds not needed will be returned to donors on a pro-rated basis. However, we must be prepared for a legal battle that is long and protracted. The future of Captiva is at stake.


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