Introduction – FGCU President Martin

Dr. Michael Martin, President of Florida Gulf Coast University

Village Councilmembers, left to right: Howard Levitan, Mayor Jim Boesch, Jon McLain, Dr. Michael Martin, Vice-Mayor Bill Ribble, Katy Errington, Nick Batos and Jim Wilson.


Dr. Michael Martin, President of Florida Gulf Coast University, gave a short description of his role and goals for the university at the beginning of this meeting.   One of the goals is that the graduate degrees are geared to allowing graduates to work and live in this area.  He agreed that “water issues” is one of the areas where the Village and university can work together.  Dr. Martin, who became the institution’s fourth president on July 1, 2017, stated the university is committed to community engagement.

Public Comment on non-agenda items

Barbara Saxton reviewed some of the efforts to date of the Friends of the River Oaks Park Project and is looking forward to a Council workshop on this subject early next year.

Patty Whitehead stated the community should have the right to determine who conducts the study regarding a new FGCU building in the southern boundary of the university.

Action Items

Council approved a one-year interlocal agreement with Lee County pertaining to stray animal control services.  This agreement deals specifically with stray animals, including adoption services, holding of stray animals, etc. This agreement will cost $22,760 for FY 2017-18.  (Interlocal agreement)

Council approved the amended 2018 Village of Estero Legislative Priorities.  These included extending the Jeff Sommer Memorial Highway designation on US 41 to the north end of the Village of Estero, supporting a bill for disclosure and inspection of septic systems at the time of a property sale, and designation of Corkscrew Road, west of Alico Road and east of the 1-75 interchange, as a truck-free parkway. (2018 Village of Estero Legislative Priorities)

Ordinance 2017-10 – Ban on medical marijuana facilities

Council moved to a second reading/public hearing of this ordinance amending the Land Development Code to prohibit medical marijuana dispensing and cultivation facilities within the Village boundaries.

State rules addressing marijuana sales are not yet complete.  Currently, if permitted, sales would be allowed wherever pharmacies are allowed, which includes many districts.  Currently, there are dispensaries in Lee County, one within 4 miles of Estero. The Legislature will be addressing this issue further during this year’s session.

Public Comment:  One resident spoke in favor of the ban.

A second reading and public hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., November 15.  (Ordinance 2017-10)

Ordinance 2017-11 – Changing qualifications for membership of the Design Review Board members

Council moved to a second reading/public hearing of this ordinance which amends ordinance 15-01 changing the qualifications of membership and adding a new section regarding ethics and conflicts of interest, revising the quorum requirement, and providing a severability clause for the Design Review Board.

Public Comment: Three residents spoke regarding this ordinance, referring to the appearance of impropriety.

A second reading and public hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., November 15. (Ordinance 2017-11)

Council communications

There was a discussion regarding three resolutions proposed by Councilmember Katy Errington.  It was determined that a resolution designating the Coach Jeff Sommer Memorial Highway on U.S. 41 from the north boundary to the south boundary of the Village should be added to the consent agenda for the next meeting. The other two resolutions were deferred.

Vice-Mayor Bill Ribble reminded everyone about the Veterans Day event at the Elks Club starting at 8 a.m. – 11 a.m., Saturday, November 11.  Breakfast will be served at $10, or free to veterans with proof of service. Councilmember Nick Batos and Bonita Springs Mayor Peter Simmons will be the guest speakers.  There will be a 16-passenger van to take residents from the Elks Club to the Estero Community Park for the Inaugural Veterans Day event held there from 11:30 – 2 p.m.  Complimentary hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, water and soft drinks will be served, along with entertainment and recognition of Estero’s WW II veterans.

Councilmember Jim Wilson stated his community has sent 188 letters to the Office of Greenways and Trails in support of the Bonita-Estero Trail.

Workshop Items – Comprehensive Plan (Presentation)

Public School Facilities

Laura DeJohn, Johnson Engineering, gave a presentation on public school facilities, stating Estero is attracting a younger demographic. The Village should be focused on neighborhood schools, ensuring they are located conveniently for families and that they also serve as recreational facilities for residents.   She stated schools should provide programming unique to Estero.

Lee County District 3 School Board member Chris Patricca spoke about the importance of community identity with schools.  In addition, emergency response is critical as proved during Hurricane Irma where 12 schools served as shelters.  She will work closely with Councilmember Nick Batos and the Village consultants on the Public School Facilities element.

Recreation & Open Space

Ben Smith, LaRue Planning and Management Services, stated this subject received the most comments from the public, indicating interest in everything from shared path trails to a swimming pool.

It was suggested a master planning expert aid the Council in this planning effort.

Public Comment: Ed Weil, Chair, Coalition/Advisor to the Estero High School Alumni Assoc., stated the high school is not recognized as a recreational facility.  He pointed out that the school has a new, urethane rubber track and the tennis courts are being improved, both of which can be used by all Estero residents.

Patty Whitehead stated there is a need for green space for those residents who are not in gated communities with such amenities.  She encouraged the use of the railway as a recreational trail.

Don Eslick talked about the western entrance to the Estero Community Park which includes 10 acres of unused land.  In the past, this had been suggested as a “greenway boulevard” which could include cultural and civic activities.

This was one of a several upcoming Council workshops in conjunction with the Village’s first Comprehensive Plan which will be transmitted to the state for approval early next year.

Additional details are available in the minutes of this meeting.  Residents may also view the archived meeting by going to the Village website

The next Council meeting will held at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, November 15, 2017.