After invasive iguanas turned from island oddity to daily nuisance, property owners brought their concerns to the Panel in search of a solution. First, the Panel helped to fund a trapper who visited the island weekly to remove iguanas and their eggs. Then, after bringing the island’s concerns to county officials, Lee County agreed to pay for the trapping effort while the island worked on approving a taxing unit so property owners could fund the trapping efforts on an ongoing basis. A petition drive to form the necessary taxing unit was launched in fall 2020, with a spring 2021 deadline that resulted in too few votes to pass. Working with the county, the Panel continues to pursue options to keep a trapper coming to the island to help control the iguana population.
All units of local government in Florida must adopt comprehensive plans pursuant to Chapter 163 of the Florida Statutes. These plans serve three broad purposes:
- Certain day-to-day public and private activities within each jurisdiction must be consistent with the goals, objectives, and policies in the adopted plan.
- The plan is a source of authority for the local government’s land development regulations and for a wide range of official discretionary actions, including, but not limited to, the capital improvement program.
- The plan represents the community’s vision of what it will or should look like by the end of the planning horizon.
As a part of unincorporated Lee County, Captiva land use is governed by the county’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (AKA Lee Plan). Under the county’s community planning initiative in vogue during the Panel’s formation in 2002, communities in unincorporated Lee County could include goals, policies and objectives in the Lee Plan that reflected that community’s unique nature and history. Captiva is one of 14 county communities that developed their own plan within the larger document, ensuring that certain development standards and preservation practices long favored by the island would be enshrined in a legally enforceable document.
The Panel submitted amendments to the Lee Plan (which comprise the Captiva Plan under Goal 23 of the Lee Plan) that were adopted by the county in 2003, 2011 and 2018.
Policies, etc., set forth in the Lee Plan are aspirational, broader and more general statements about how things involving land use and development (and more) should be done. To implement those aspirations, we turn to the more specific language in the Land Development Code, a complete codification of the general and permanent land development ordinances of Lee County.
In a similar vein, the aspirations set forth in the Captiva Plan are implanted using the more-detailed language of the Captiva Code (Chapter 33, Article IX of the county LDC) as adopted by the county in 2012 and 2017 (another amendment is currently pending). The LDC also has the general regulations for land use and development which apply countywide, unless superseded by the Captiva Code. So those interested in how certain land use activities are regulated on the island can first review the Captiva Code (to see if there are any conditions specific to Captiva), and then the entire LDC (to see what countywide rules then come into play).
Captiva Island suffered a direct hit on Aug. 13, 2004, by Hurricane Charley, a Category 3 storm whose eye paralleled the island shoreline before cutting eastward over the island’s northern end. Along with severe and widespread building damage, the resulting winds destroyed the island’s historic tree canopy and vegetation buffer along Captiva Drive.
The Panel worked to restore the island’s historic canopy and vegetation with predominantly native vegetation, situated and maintained in such a way as to enhance storm survivability as well as restore (as much as is feasible) the prior canopy. Due to the very limited public right-of-way along Captiva Drive, the Panel developed a subsidy for private property owners to purchase native vegetation for replanting at 25% of the actual cost.
The work was funded by a $125,000 grant from the Florida Division of Forestry, and more than 1,300 native plants were purchased from the SCCF Native Plant Nursery by Captiva owners during 2006-2007.
A smaller state grant for $17,200 funded the planting of more than 100 natives trees along the public right-of-way on Captiva Drive and other island roads in 2011.