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Zoning votes against a proposed amendment

June 6, 2018
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

A request for a zoning amendment on commercial zoned land located at 4716 Lee Blvd., was made before the Lehigh Acres Architectural, Planning & Zoning Review Board this month.

Veronica Martin, senior planner with TDM Consulting, presented the project on behalf of the applicant, who was proposing to amend a master concept plan. The zoning amendment would allow for a 3,696-square-foot place of worship instead of its current zoning of a 22,000-square-foot parcel of land for commercial/retail use.

The applicant also requested two deviations on the master plan. The first deviation was to not provide wheel stops in the parking lot and to permit roll-out totes (curbside pickup) instead of a commercial dumpster.

According to Board Vice President Tami Baker, the board unanimously motioned against the project.

"We denied the project because we don't want to see a church occupy a space where there could be 22,000 square feet of commercial space. This would take away from our tax base and possible jobs in the future," explained Baker.

The nearly 2-acre parcel of land was originally zoned for commercial/retail space and could be the site for a new shopping center here in Lehigh Acres.

Baker pointed out that there are other sites better suited for the new place of worship.

"There are so many churches struggling to make it out here, so it would make more sense to take the space from an existing building currently being used in that capacity," said Baker.

In the end the decision ultimately lies in the county's hands and will likely be approved.

"It's a shame the county can't step in and keep this kind of stuff from happening. This is why the residents having a say in what businesses come out here is important. Unfortunately we will never be able to decide our future without some type of governing body," said Baker.

According to Baker, in 2008-2009 community members from local organizations worked on a compressive plan for Lehigh Acres to create a design for what it would look like in the future.

"We do anticipate things are going to start picking up out here and we will see more businesses opening up, but we are not adhering to the comprehensive plan that was originally designed for Lehigh Acres. No one is paying attention to what was previously laid out in regards to planning strategies," said Baker.

Other topics before the zoning board included the consideration of individual's who recently submitted applications to fill current board positions.

"We have two new members joining the zoning board. Our first member is Mr. Faustino, who currently owns a landscaping company. The second member is Esther Andalia, who owns and operates a construction company with her husband and is also a real estate agent. They both bring a wealth of experience in their fields," said Baker.

The Lehigh Acres Architectural, Planning & Zoning Review Board will hold its next regular monthly meeting Thursday, June 28, from 5:30-7 p.m., at the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services District, located at 601 East County Lane, Lehigh Acres. The project submittal due date for the meeting is June 18. For more information, visit



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