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LCMCD postpones decision in airstrip purchase

November 21, 2018
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

At their monthly meeting last Thursday, Lee County Mosquito Control District commissioners postponed the decision whether to purchase Woodstock Airport until next month's meeting.

LCMCD proposed to purchase the 35-acre property on Pine Island last year as a satellite facility. LCMCD states that the satellite location will provide a substantial cost savings.

Once the proposal to purchase was made, several Gulf Coast residents filed a lawsuit to stop the sale stating the airstrip did not meet agricultural zoning regulations. This was dismissed by the court and the residents filed an appeal on Nov. 7, which is pending.

LCMD Executive Director T. Wayne Gale outlined the choices before the board.

"In our contract we have a 6-month lease option with an additional 6 months in case we wanted to extend it," Gale said. "Today we have the option to either not extend the lease or to extend the lease, but we need to make that decision today because the lease is up on Dec. 31."

The commissioners voted to not renew the lease 5-0 with Commissioner Steven Bowen, who was just elected to the board to District 4, abstaining.

In a statement from LCMCD: "The LCMCD Board of Commissioners did not extend the District's lease of the Woodstock Airport for an additional six months. Therefore, the District is under contract to purchase the airport at the end of December 2018."

The appeal filed Nov. 7 by the Gulf Coast residents states that the court erred in dismissing the complaint based several issues: lack of standing, lack of jurisdiction and separation of powers.

The appellants are seeking "a declaratory judgement that the District's proposed use of the property would violate the applicable zoning restrictions and the 1975 Special Permit conditions."

A motion was made at the LCMD in an attempt to not purchase the airport but the motion was not seconded. Therefore no vote was taken. A motion was then made to purchase the airport but the motion was not seconded and no vote was taken.

The statement from LCMCD: "Up until that point, the District has the option to withdraw from the purchase agreement and receive the initial deposit back, if there is still pending litigation. The next regularly scheduled board meeting is Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, at 10 a.m."

"I think we made progress today," Ila Valcarcel, the owner if the island property, said. "I left the meeting today very confident because we are one step closer to the resolution and purchase of the property."

Ndakhte Ndiaye, a Gulf Coast resident and member of the opposition group said, "Between now and the next board meeting, much legal activity will be taking place to end this once and for all."



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