Gateway Sun

Last month it was discovered that real estate developer WCI had filed permits with Lee County and the South Florida Water Management District that allowed them to build impervious structures on 45% of the new Timberwood Preserve community, when they should only have been allowed to build on the standard 40% in Gateway.

Basically what that means is that, in Gateway, you can only build roads, houses, etc. on 40% of the available land in any given community. The remaining 60% must be space for lawns, trees, ponds and other natural elements.

At the time, Gateway’s District Engineer Danny Nelson expressed shock and said that WCI “knew better” than to file a permit at 45% since they were quite familiar with our community’s development rules.

Since Lee County and the SFWMD didn’t have any rules against what WCI wanted to do, they granted the developer the permit at 45%, which was discovered by Nelson and his company Tetra Tech.

Gateway’s lawyer Anthony Pires Jr. hatched a plan to force WCI back in to compliance. Pires asked permission from the Board of Supervisors of the Gateway Services Community Development District to do two things: 1) to file a permit challenge with SFWMD and the county, and 2) to refuse to install any new water meters in Timberwood Preserve – essentially making it impossible for WCI to sell any homes there.

The Board gave their blessing to Pires’ plan.

And the plan worked.

At the GSCDD meeting on November 5, 2015, WCI offered a complete surrender and apology to the residents of Gateway. WCI also offered an explanation along the lines of the whole thing being an honest mistake, but it wasn’t clear if the Board was buying it.

Nevertheless, with WCI agreeing to immediately revert back to 40% standard and also agreeing to pay all of the GSCDD’s legal and administrative costs in the matter, the Supervisors agreed to lift the restriction on water meter installations.

Pires also noted that there was no longer any need for a permit challenge.

So now if you’re planning to buy a home in Timberwood Preserve, you can rest assured that thanks to Tony Pires, your home will have running water and your community will have the correct amount of green space.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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