Guest editorial: GICIA, Friends of Cape Haze watching Charlotte County comp plan closely

February 1, 2015
By BBadmin7502

SUBMITTED BY THE GASPARILLA ISLAND CONSERVATION AND IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION – In recent years, GICIA has begun to face new challenges as we recognize that growth in nearby areas off-island have the potential to seriously impact us. In an effort to effectively deal with such issues, GICIA has established a strong relationship with the Friends of Cape Haze Inc.

This nonprofit organization, comprised of Cape Haze residents, has similar environmental and development concerns as GICIA.

Recently, Charlotte County Commissioners adopted a revision to the Comprehensive Plan. GICIA and Friends of Cape Haze agree that these recent changes are significant and could allow for an increase in density to Placida’s coastal high hazard areas from 3.5 to perhaps as high as 65 units per acre.

Following the adoption hearing, the GICIA Board of Directors met with representatives of Friends of Cape Haze regarding this urgent matter. Friends, who were successful in legal action against Charlotte County’s last Comprehensive Plan adoption in 2010, felt the changes were significant enough to warrant a legal challenge. GICIA Directors strongly agreed that such high density development immediately off-island would have an impact on island residents and would dramatically increase residents already inexcusable emergency and evacuation times.

After hearing the presentation by Friends of Cape Haze the GICIA Board unanimously agreed to pledge $20,000 towards the legal challenge of the newly revised Charlotte County Comprehensive Plan. There is no doubt that 65 units per acre would constitute inappropriate development of the sensitive, low-lying areas of the Cape Haze Peninsula and would have dire consequences to Boca Grande’s residents. GICIA will stand strong with Friends of Cape Haze and will continue to support them in their legal efforts to protect against high density, high-rise development of the southern tip of the Cape Haze Peninsula.

Friends of Cape Haze Board Member, Percy Angelo, says she is pleased with the financial support Friends has been awarded by GICIA, Cape Haze residents and other concerned organizations. sSe remains cautiously optimistic but is quick to note that “as with any court appeal, this is going to be an arduous and expensive endeavor.”