In response to the many concerns from Gateway residents about the proposed Boardwalk project, Lee County staff have compiled an FAQ list and provided answers to them. They’re posted in full at the end of this article.
Speaking for myself, I am satisfied with 13 out of the 14 answers – the lone exception being to the seventh question.
Here is that question:
“Do the existing multiple family units in Royal Greens, which is also located in Area 1 of the Gateway PUD, count toward the 200 allowable multiple family units for the subject property?”
And here is the answer supplied by Lee County staff:
“No. The limitation on multiple family units is specific to properties subject to the Town Center TC) use regulations. While both the proposed project and the Royal Greens development are located in Area 1 of the PUD, the properties have different subdistrict classifications on the Area Master Plan. The proposed project is designated Town Center (TC), while Royal Greens is designated Multiple-Family (MF). [emphasis added]
Here’s how multiple family dwelling units are defined in the county ordinance that created Gateway, #85-15:
“Dwelling, Multi-Family: A structure containing more than two dwelling units, when said dwelling units are located one on top of another.”
So, both Royal Greens and Boardwalk.
And here’s what the ordinance says the Boardwalk parcel of land can be used for when it comes to multiple-family dwelling units:
“Multiple-family dwelling units, provided not more than two hundred (200) units are permitted throughout area 1”
For the benefit of those of you who work for Lee County who aren’t understanding my issue with all this I’m going to try and explain my position by subbing out Boardwalk for Disney World – and attempt to explain the conversation some people in Gateway are trying to have with Lee County.
Suppose in 1950 the Lee County Commissioners created a rule that said: Disney can build an amusement park in Lee County as long as there are no other Disney amusement parks anywhere else in Florida.
In 1971, Disney World opens Orlando. That alone would eliminate the possibility of a Disney park in Lee County under that 1950 rule.
Fast forward to 2018 and Disney announces they want to build an amusement park in Gateway.
Lee County staff says: Yes. We approve Disney building a park in Lee County at the corner of Gateway Boulevard and Griffin Drive.
Gateway residents say: But since there’s already a park in Orlando, Florida your own rules say they cannot build a new park in in Lee County.
Lee County staff: There’s no Disney park in Lee County. So they can build a park in Lee County.
Gateway residents: The rule says if there’s a park anywhere in FLORIDA, they cannot build one in Lee County. And there’s already a park in Orlando!
Lee County staff: No. You don’t understand the difference between Orlando and Lee County. There’s no park in Lee County, so our rule says they CAN build one in Lee County.
Gateway residents: Your rule LITERALLY READS – word for word — that if there’s a park ANYWHERE IN FLORIDA then they cannot build one in Lee County.
Lee County staff: Lee County is a county. Orlando is a city. So since there’s no Disney park in Lee County, they can build one here. We’re sorry for you that you cannot understand this.
As crazy as it sounds, that’s exactly what county staff are saying… and asking you to believe them that it actually does make sense… but some of us are just not smart enough to understand.
The ordinance actually contains very clear and simple sentences. There is no confusion in their literal meaning when you read them. It’s extremely basic.
Once again, multi-family units are defined in the ordinance as: A structure containing more than two dwelling units, when said dwelling units are located one on top of another.
Again that’s both Royal Greens and Boardwalk.
And that piece of land at Gateway and Griffin can be used for: Multiple-family dwelling units, provided not more than two hundred (200) units are permitted throughout area 1
It says throughout Area 1. It doesn’t say “throughout sections of Area 1 designated as Town Center” as the county suggests is what the rule means.
I’m not satisfied with the staff’s response to this crucial question. At all.
Read the freakin’ rule. It’s clear as day.
But Lee County’s staff say they can interpret the rule to benefit the developer instead of applying the rule as it’s written. So they’ve administratively approved (as in the elected Commissioners had no say in the matter) the 220 unit Boardwalk at Gateway project.
Here is the full FAQ document produced by county staff.
In response to questions and concerns regarding the recent Final Plan Approval for the Gateway Multiple Family project , staff has prepared the following list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to address questions, explain the process, and provide some context.
To summarize, the project proposal was approved administratively by staff, following the process outlined in the Gateway zoning documents, for one of many allowable uses established in the zoning for the project location. The Board of County Commissioners was not involved in the recent action, consistent with the established process.
If you have additional questions after reviewing this document, please contact Dirk Danley, Jr. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gateway Multiple Family FAQ
1. What development has been approved with the issuance of ADD2018-10036?
ADD2018-10036 is a request for Final Plan Approval, pursuant to the Gateway Planned Unit Development (PUD) Ordinance, for a maximum of 220 multiple family dwelling units with a maximum height of 52 feet. The primary means of ingress and egress will be from Gateway Boulevard with a secondary exit only access to Devonshire Lakes Drive.
2. Does the Lee County Board of County Commissioners vote on Final Plan Approval application requests?
No. The Final Plan Approval process, as outlined in the PUD Ordinance, is handled administratively by staff and does not require consideration through the public hearing process.
3. Did the issuance of ADD2018-10036 change the permitted uses on the subject property?
No. Permitted uses were established through the adoption of the PUD Ordinance in on May 31, 1985.
4. What is a Final Plan Approval?
Each subdistrict within the Gateway PUD contains a substantial list of permitted uses. The Final Plan Approval process is the means to seek approval for detailed site development plans once a specific permitted use is selected for development.
5. What is the zoning history for the property at the intersection of Gateway Boulevard and Griffin Drive?
The Gateway Planned Unit Development (PUD) was originally approved by Lee County in 1985 via Ordinance No. 85-15. This ordinance established the applicable zoning regulations, including subdistrict designations, permitted uses, and property development regulations applicable to development within the PUD. While there have been a number of amendments, the actions most relevant to the subject property include:
- The Gateway Area Master Plan, adopted as part of the PUD Ordinance in 1985, designated the subject property as Neighborhood Community Commercial (NCC).
- The property was re-designated from the Neighborhood Community Commercial (NCC) subdistrict to the Town Center (TC) subdistrict in 2005 with the approval of ADD2005-00218.
- The recent administrative action (Final Plan Approval) approved the conceptual site plan for a multiple-family project, consistent with the use regulations established for the Town Center (TC) subdistrict.
6. What is the purpose and intent of the Town Center Subdistrict and what uses are permitted by right within it?
The purpose and intent of the Town Center Subdistrict is defined in the PUD Ordinance as:
“to establish areas for hotels, offices, multifamily residences, and certain commercial facilities serving Gateway residents, the greater Lee County area and the visiting public.”
Uses permitted by right in the Town Center Subdistrict include, but are not limited to:
- Automobile Service Station
- Multiple family dwelling units
- Night clubs
- Package Stores (aka Liquor Stores)
- Retail uses such as department stores and food stores
The maximum height permitted in the Town Center subdistrict of the Gateway PUD is 10 stories.
7. Do the existing multiple family units in Royal Greens, which is also located in Area 1 of the Gateway PUD, count toward the 200 allowable multiple family units for the subject property?
No. The limitation on multiple family units is specific to properties subject to the Town Center (TC) use regulations. While both the proposed project and the Royal Greens development are located in Area 1 of the PUD, the properties have different subdistrict classifications on the Area Master Plan. The proposed project is designated Town Center (TC), while Royal Greens is designated Multiple-Family (MF).
8. What is the open area adjacent to Griffin Boulevard going to be used for?
While the emphasis of ADD2018-10036 is focused on providing site plan details for the proposed multiple-family development, staff acknowledges that there is remaining area that may facilitate future development along Griffin Boulevard. Since the future use of this portion of the property is not specified at this time, staff has included a condition that future development of this area will require additional Final Plan Approval.
9. Why was the Final Plan Approval issued when there was an apparent lack of support for the project at the public information meeting held by the applicant?
Staff is aware that there was a public information meeting held by the applicant, but the meeting was not a requirement of the Code and was conducted on a voluntary basis by the applicant. The Final Plan Approval was issued consistent with the PUD Ordinance provisions.
10. What is the next step?
A local development order must be obtained prior to commencement of work on the property. Construction of buildings will also require issuance of building permits. There have been no development order or building permit applications submitted as of February 12, 2020.
11. Were traffic issues considered during this approval?
Traffic is considered on a very general basis during a Final Plan Approval process. A more detailed, project-specific Traffic Impact Statement (TIS) will be submitted and reviewed during the development order application process. Any significant roadway impacts generated by the project must be mitigated by the applicant.
12. What details are available for the round-about project at the intersection at Griffin Parkway and Gateway Boulevard?
The roundabout is in the design stage, with construction scheduled to commence in the spring of 2021. The project is intended to help relieve congestion/access issues at the intersection. For more information, please contact Lee County DOT at (239) 533-8580.
13. Have other agencies, such as the Army Corps of Engineers or South Florida Water Management District, been involved in the review of the Final Plan Approval?
Any applicable State and Federal agency permits must be obtained prior to commencement of construction activities approved through future development order and building permit applications. Approval from these agencies is not required to be in place prior to issuance of the Final Plan Approval.
14. Are there wetlands or preserves identified on the property?
While there are no preserves identified, there is an area of wetlands on the eastern portion of the property. Any impact to the wetlands will require permits from appropriate State and Federal agencies.