Lee County grants variance requests for Three Sisters builders

March 16, 2018
By Marcy Shortuse

This past week a final ruling was made by a Lee County Hearing Examiner in the case of three Three Sisters variances requested regarding the small isthmus of land that may or may not soon be a road to the spoil island. This is a case that was continued from December 13, 2017, and last heard on January 9, 2018.
After examining the evidence presented Deputy Hearing Examiner Laura B. Belflower, Esq. granted all three variance requests, which included a request for relief from the Lee County Land Development Code that requires a 5-foot wide vegetative buffer landward of non-seawalled natural waterways, a request for relief from buffering when roads are less than 125 feet from an existing single-family residential subdivision, and a request for relief from being required to erect a five-foot minimum retaining wall setback landward of any wetland vegetation.
According to court records the applicants, Three Sisters Homeowners Association, Inc. and 5F, LLC, plan to build a road along the narrow strip of land that developed through mysterious means in one year many years ago. While some say the land developed through natural accretion, many locals say the waterway that was so popular with fishermen was passable one day and filled in the next.
Court records read, “Staff recommends approval of all three variances, subject to conditions. Approval of the variances does not approve the road … the variances are not applicable unless the property owner secures all the separate, necessary approvals and authorizations for the road.”
The battle that waged in January in the Lee County Hearing Examiner’s office included much animosity, including the applicants calling into question the integrity and character of the property owner who owns the land just to the north of where the road runs through.
At the last hearing the applicants’ attorney, Michael Haymans, produced documents showing Lot 99 as a utility easement and an ingress-egress, with the utilities running right down the middle of the property. This was indicative of the fact a home could not be built on that lot anyway.
Chad Pike, the property owner just to the north of where the isthmus to Three Sisters begins, owns the only house built to date on Three Sisters. He does not want the road to be allowed at all as an access point for vehicle traffic on Three Sisters.
The court case regarding whether the road to Three Sisters will be allowed or not continues.