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Council hears from county manager

February 12, 2020
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Lee County's top administrator gave residents, officials and business leaders an update last week on all things Lehigh.

The Lehigh Acres Community Council invited Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais to speak during its Feb. 3 regular meeting. Desjarlais spoke in front of a large crowd of both residents and other agency figures.

A few of the topics on the county manager's agenda included Homestead construction updates and the positive and negative aspects of Lehigh's growth.

"The people in the audience had some really great questions. He talked about the Homestead Road extension and that the widening and repair project should be finished in April 2020. It had to be pushed back a few times due to hurricane Irma and utility issues," Council Vice-president Tyler Woodby said.

Members of the public were allowed time to ask questions following the updates and topics covered by Desjarlais

Council 2nd Vice-president Mohamed Yasin brought up the advertising of Lehigh to get more business in the area.

Yasin questioned how the county is working to attract more businesses to take root in Lehigh Acres.

According to Desjarlais, all areas in Lee County are treated equally when it comes to promotion.

"We don't advertise any part of the county any more than any other part of the county. Lehigh is advertised the same," Desjarlais said. "The fact that Lehigh is a pre-platted community adds to the difficulty in attracting businesses to come and invest."

Lee County School Board Gwyn Gittens was in attendance and brought up the lack of schools in Lehigh and the need to work with the county to create a way to get more schools for the district.

"The schools in this district are overcrowded. If we took all the over-flow of students from the middle schools in Lehigh Acres alone, we could create 1.5 schools," Gittens said.

Gittens also spoke about the importance of everyone in the community taking part in the ongoing 2020 US Census. The Lehigh Complete Count Committee was formed to make sure that Lehigh Acres is properly accounted for.

"The Census is extremely important to our community. It represents the federal funding that comes into a community for things such as education, food, senior care, medical care, infrastructure and community initiates," Gittens said.

Gittens stressed the importance of everyone in the community being accounted for due to the fact that the government gives a community between $1,400 to 1,500 per person in federal funding per year.

"Lehigh Acres, being the fast-growing community that it is, especially needs this money to create the infrastructure, build Title One schools and preschool and aftercare programs," Gittens said.

President Chuck Edwards brought up another topic brought before the county back in 2016: backyard chickens.

According to Desjarlais, the county would have to look at the feasibility of doing an overlay for one portion of the county. Another hurdle is the pre-platted concept of Lehigh Acres.

"He mentioned that it would require masses amounts of rezoning efforts on the county's part. Our board has drafted a resolution asking the county to consider backyard chickens. Council members will vote to approve the resolution during the next meeting," Woodby said.

The council has a few upcoming events on its calendar including co-hosting a debate with "We Vote" which will be held on Tuesday, March 24, at Mugs n' Jugs Family Grille, 5512 8th Street West, Lehigh Acres.

"This debate will be geared towards Lee County Commissioner candidates. This will be our first debate but we plan to hold more, if possible," Woodby said.

The council also will host its monthly litter cleanup on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 9 a.m. Those interested in volunteering can meet the group at a tent located at the corner of 1st Street and Sunshine Blvd.

The Lehigh Acres Community Council holds its next regular meeting on Monday, March 2, at 6 p.m. with guest speaker Lance Wissinger of Florida Rights Restoration. Meetings are held inside the meeting room at the LCSO East District substation, at 1301 Homestead Road N. For more information on council meetings visit CommunityCouncil/



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