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Protect Captiva Legal Update & Gulfshore Business Article

May 2, 2024
South Seas 1 1800

The “Protect Captiva” coalition wants to bring two linked documents to your attention. Both support the Captiva community’s contention (and continuing legal actions) that increasing building heights and density on Captiva and South Seas is unlawful and inappropriate on a fragile barrier island.

A public information request by our legal team uncovered a document entitled South Seas Plantation Due Diligence Questions with DCD Responses July 2021.” (Attached here). The questions from the new owners of South Seas shortly before their purchase of the resort in September 2021 and the responses from the County’s Department of Community Development confirm (i) that County staff understood in July 2021 that the maximum allowable units at South Seas was 912 units (including hotel units) and (ii) that the new owners of South Seas were advised of, and clearly understood, the 912 dwelling unit cap on the resort prior to their purchase of the property. The current South Seas application to build 272 condominiums and 435 hotel units clearly violates the longstanding comprehensive development plan for South Seas and would increase density at South Seas from 912 units to 1347 units – a 48% increase.  

Gulfshore Business, April 29, 2024:

“Emails show beginnings, contradictions of South Seas resort amendment”

Also, David Dorsey wrote a detailed article in the April 29 issue of Gulfshore Business. The article is based upon a review of numerous emails and logs obtained by the reporter through a public information request. Dorsey documents how the County and South Seas worked together to increase building heights and density at South Seas long before any efforts to increase development on Captiva became public. According to the article, 

South Seas resort ownership group’s engineer proposed a land-use amendment for Lee County’s government at least six months before the first public discussions and at least seven weeks before the County’s official timeline began. . . . The timeline contradicts what county government officials and South Seas resort owners and contractors said at public meetings, where they said county staff initiated the Land Development Code amendments January 17, 2023. The resort proposed a draft of one of the amendments for the County as early as November 2022 and inquired about doing so in February 2022.” 

The article also documents the extensive number of meetings between agents of South Seas and the County. You can read the whole article here

Other Legal Updates

Finally, “Protect Captiva”:

  • has filed a complaint in Florida’s circuit court seeking to enforce the 912-unit density limit on South Seas which the County must answer by May 24
  • will soon have its petition against the County filed with the Division of Administrative Hearings which will determine whether the Code amendments which exempt South Seas from Captiva’s height and density limitations violate the Lee Plan
  • has advised the County that the South Seas application seeking increased height and density violates both the longstanding and enforceable development plan for South Seas as well as the current Lee Plan, and that “Protect Captiva” will intervene in the hearing examiner process as this matter is adjudicated   


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