Conservancy of Southwest Florida announces summer programs

Parents looking for a fun and educational way for kids to spend time over the summer – consider the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is now offering new summer activities, including a Little Explorer pre-k programs, guided kayak tours, Junior Vet Lab, wildlife hospital exhibits and an environmental education lecture series.

Led by Conservancy representatives, guests will have the opportunity to come face-to-face with native reptiles, ocean cr
eatures, and occasionally catch a glimpse of rehabilitating wildlife. Daily Education Programs will begin from May 1 through Oct. 31 at 11 a.m. at the Wildlife Hospital Nursey Viewing Window.

Daily programs include:Photo 3

11 a.m. “Wildlife Hospital Nursery Viewing Window”

11:15 a.m. “Reptile Roundup”

12:15 p.m. “Wildlife Hospital Talk”

1:15 p.m. “Ocean Discoveries”

2 p.m. “Wildlife Hospital Nursery Viewing Window”

On the Water

Electric boat tours are also available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Guests can enjoy a relaxing 45-minute ride on the mangrove lined Gordon River led by a Conservancy boat captain. Rides are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Boat Tours are included in price of admission to the Conservancy Nature Center, must be 2 years old to board electric boats.

In addition, kayak rentals for up to two hours, are available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Take a guided tour of the Gordon River or head out on your own and discover the hidden treasures of this brackish water habitat, which provides a perfect sanctuary for many native Florida species and explore the natural beauty of Southwest Florida. Kayak rentals and guided tours, reservations required.

Visitors can go on a 2-hPhoto 2our kayak adventure with a Conservancy-trained guide where they will learn about the importance of the mangrove forest while spotting Florida wildlife. Tours will be offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. for $40 for members and $50 for non-members, reservations required.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida will also offer a guided Boat and Lunch tours of the Gordon River on Fridays in May through September. Tours will depart at noon aboard one of its famous electric boats and stop for lunch at Wahoo’s River Bar and Grill. After your meal, guests will cruise back to the Conservancy’s Nature Center where they can explore the Dalton Discovery Center, the Little Explorer Play Zone and wildlife hospital exhibits, reservations required.

Little Explorers

The Little Explorers Pre-K programs will be offered Thursdays and Saturdays at 10 a.m.  Little Explorer Play Zone provides the youngest visitors, the opportunity to explore nature and discover amazing animals through multi-sensory, interactive activities, stories, and crafts. No registration required. Admission is free for members and included in admission for non-members. Little Explorer Play Zone is most enjoyed by children 5 and younger. Summer programs include:

May 12; 14: A Color of His OwnPhoto 1

May 26; 28: Salty the Sea Turtle

June 9; 11: Over in the Forest

June 23; 25: House for Hermit Crabs

July 14; 16: Small Green Snake

July 28; 30: Where Should Turtle Be?

Aug. 11; 13: The Little Lazy Lizard

Aug. 25: Commotion in the Ocean

Adult Speakers Series

Free to Conservancy members, “Evenings at the Conservancy,” the monthly environmental education lecture series will continue on select Tuesday evenings. The series features a wide variety of presenters, eco-programs, panel members from the Conservancy, and local and regional environmental experts. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the program starts at 6:30 p.m. Programs frequently sell out, please pre-register by emailing Sophia Navarra at sophian@conservancy.org or by calling 239-403-4207. Lecture topics include:

May 10: “Legislative Wrap Up” with Jennifer Hecker, Conservancy Director of Natural Resource Policy

June 14: “Invasive Reptiles in SWFL” featuring Ian Bartoszek, Conservancy biologist

July 12: “FWC Florida Manatee Research” with Denise Boyd, FWC Conservation Research Associate

Self-Guided Nature Center Tours

In addition to summer programs, the Conservancy Nature Center offers self-guided exploring. Visitors can explore the interactive Dalton Discovery Center, which features the wondrous ecosystems of Southwest Florida. They can discover live animals, get hands-on in the touch tank, and see Luna, the loggerhead sea turtle, in the 5,000-gallon aquarium.

The von Arx Wildlife Hospital treats more than 3,200 injured, sick and orphaned native animals each year. Discover threats facing our animals and injury prevention tips. Guided tours of the Wildlife Hospital Nursery Viewing Window are offered every day at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Guests can walk through the hospital exhibits and check out a behind-the-scenes film, patient X-rays, animal artifacts, and the Jr. Vet Lab.Photo 4

The Junior Vet Lab is an interactive play space where children can learn how veterinarians care for animals, and the children can role-play with native animals (of the “stuffed” species). The Junior Vet Lab is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Nature Center’s Sapakie Family Classroom.

Special Celebration Days

May 7 will be Nature Cat Day, guests are encouraged to leave their inner house cat behind and explore the natural world, encounter animals, and enjoy interactive children’s activities based on the newest PBS Kids TV show “Nature Cat.”

On Friday May 19 and Saturday May 20 the Conservancy will celebrate Endangered Species Day to raise awareness about our must vulnerable species. There will be special activities throughout the day and special admission deals for Conservancy and Zoo members. Zoo members receive free admission to the Conservancy and Conservancy members get in free to the Zoo.

Summer at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida will include special celebration days with family-friendly activities to celebrate our water, land and wildlife.

World Turtle Day – May 23: Celebration activities May 23-29

World Oceans Day – June 6: Celebration activities June 6-11

World Snake Day – July 16: Celebration activities July 11-16

World Lizard Day – Aug. 15: Celebration activities Aug. 15-20

 Free Admission Days

Mother’s Day, May 5-7: Free admission for Mom when accompanied by a paying guest.

Memorial Day, May 26-28 and May 30: Free admission for current and retired military with valid ID.

Father’s Day, June 16-18: Free admission for Dad when accompanied by a paying guest.

Independence Day, June 30-July 2: Free admission for current and retired military with valid ID.

Labor Day, Sept. 1-3: Free admission for First Responders with valid ID.

All Conservancy Nature Center programs and events are online at www.Conservancy.org/Nature-Center. Membership is available online at www.Conservancy.org/Join. For information about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and to make reservations, call 239-262-0304 or visit www.Conservancy.org. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is located at 1495 Smith Preserve Way in Naples.

About the Conservancy of Southwest Florida:

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a not-for-profit environmental protection organization with a 50 year history focused on the issues impacting the water, land wildlife and future of Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Conservancy accomplishes this mission through the combined efforts of its experts in the areas of environmental science, policy, education and wildlife rehabilitation. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, world-class Nature Center and von Arx Wildlife Hospital are headquartered in Naples, Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, south of the Naples Zoo off Goodlette-Frank Road. Learn more about the Conservancy’s work and how to support the quality of life in Southwest Florida www.conservancy.org.

Public invited to March 9 meeting to discuss North Fort Myers study

EDO

Lee County Economic Development will host a public meeting with consultants and Lee County government staff to discuss a study focused on stimulating the revitalization of commercial areas in North Fort Myers. The meeting will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, at 2201 Second St., room 118, in Fort Myers.

Following the Lee County Board of County Commissioners’ recent approval of a market-based assessment for commercial and mixed-use development in North Fort Myers, DCG Corplan Consulting, Norman E. Taylor & Associates, and D-H & Associates, have been hired to identify market opportunities and constraints to development that may be mitigated by a change in Lee County policy or other actions. The primary target area for the assessment extends from the Caloosahatchee River to Pondella Road and includes the lands between and adjacent to US 41 and Business 41. The Consultants will propose land uses, policies, programs and/or actions that will help by enhancing property values, and improve productivity and function of the area.

The Lee County Economic Development Office works to attract new and diversified businesses to the area, support company growth and expansions, and improve the overall business environment in Lee County. Services include site selection assistance, demographic and statistical information, business assistance, financial assistance, employee training and recruitment and community tours. For more information, visit www.LeeCountyBusiness.com or 239-533-6800.

Pavese Law Firm partner Christina Harris Schwinn to speak at SHRM SWFL lunch meeting March 9

Christina Harris Schwinn

Christina Harris Schwinn, Pavese Law Firm partner and legislative director for SHRM SWFL to speak at the SHRM SWFL lunch meeting on March 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Crowne Plaza, located at 13051 Bell Tower Dr. in Fort Myers. Sponsored by Pavese Law Firm, Ms. Schwinn will provide a Legal and Legislative update on significant employment law cases from 2015, a legislative update regarding pending federal legislation, an update regarding Florida’s 2016 legislative session regarding the employment law bills that passed and did not pass, and an agency round up regarding agency initiatives including the National Labor Relations Board, U.S. Department of Labor and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. SHRM SWFL, an affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management, is a group of human resource professionals who come together to discuss issues related to human resource management and find ways to better serve their employers and employees.

Registration for the lunch meeting is $21 for SHRM SWFL members, $25 for non-members and guests and $15 for students. Attendance at the lunch meeting can be used for one recertification credit with the HR Certification Institute and one credit for SHRM Certification. For more information or to register for the lunch meeting, visit www.shrmswfl.wildapricot.org.

Schwinn is available to speak to local businesses and organizations on a variety of employment law topics and she can be reached at 239-336-6228 or christinaschwinn@paveselaw.com. Schwinn’s primary practice areas are employment law, business transactions, community association law and real estate law. Schwinn is an accomplished public speaker and regularly writes articles that have been published both locally and nationally in a variety of publications.

Pavese Law Firm is a full-service law firm with offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and West Palm Beach. The firm provides a broad range of legal services for individuals, families, small businesses and large corporations. Practice areas include agricultural, banking and finance, bankruptcy, business and taxation, civil litigation, community association, employment, environmental and water, estate planning, probate and trust, family, land use and government, and real estate law. Established in 1949 as a one-person general practice firm, Pavese Law Firm has grown into one of the largest legal practices in Southwest Florida. With a long history of service to Southwest Florida, Pavese Law Firm has played a significant role in the growth of local businesses, communities and major development projects. For more information, visit www.paveselaw.com.

New board chair and members elected at Conservancy of Southwest Florida Annual Meeting

Ken KrierThe Conservancy of Southwest Florida recently hosted the organization’s Annual Meeting at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center. During the meeting, Conservancy members elected Ken Krier as the new board chair along with seven new community and business leaders to serve four-year terms on the Board of Directors. Also during the annual meeting, the Conservancy honored outgoing board members for their service. The keynote address was presented by University of Florida professor, Jack Davis.

The seven new board members are William Boyajian, whose interest in environmental work began with the 2010 oil spill, and a world traveler who has seen firsthand the effects on countries by non-regulated industry and pollution; Phil Collins, grandson of Dellora and Lester Norris, founders of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, who has carried on the family tradition of philanthropic endeavors and preservation of the quality of life of the local community; Tom Moran, a 30-year resident of Naples who is passionate about the community where he is an active philanthropist and leader; Dave Rismiller, whose interest in environmental involvement was inspired by unsustainable development and protection of water quality for future generations; Sue Schulte, a major supporter and volunteer for the von Arx Wildlife Hospital; Sharon von Arx, an active supporter of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital through her time, leadership and philanthropy; and Karl Williams, a retired executive who has volunteered extensively at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and is president of the Volunteer Connection.

Davis, an author and editor of several books on Florida, presented from his award-winning biography “An Everglades Providence: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the American Environmental Century,” which won the gold medal in nonfiction from the Florida Book Awards. His speech highlighted the life and legacy of environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and how her work has impacted the Everglades.

The Annual Meeting also featured speeches from Lynn Slabaugh, outgoing chair of the Board of Directors, and Rob Moher, president and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida regarding the organization’s accomplishments throughout the course of the past year, and provided an introduction for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s goals for 2016.

“There are three challenges facing the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this year: managing and shaping how growth unfolds in our region; protecting our water resources from a wide variety of threats including mining, development, new forms of oil drilling and agricultural pollution sources; and protecting our native wildlife, including our threatened and endangered species, to the best of our ability.” said Rob Moher, president and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “There are unlimited opportunities for our organization and community to make a difference, and we look forward to another successful year, and thank our board members and supporters, past and present, for all of their contributions to making our environment a better place for generations to come.”

For more information about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Board of Directors, or to learn more about its members, visit www.Conservancy.org/about/board.

About the Conservancy of Southwest Florida:

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a not-for-profit environmental protection organization with a 50 year history focused on the issues impacting the water, land wildlife and future of Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Conservancy accomplishes this mission through the combined efforts of its experts in the areas of environmental science, policy, education and wildlife rehabilitation. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, world-class Nature Center and von Arx Wildlife Hospital are headquartered in Naples, Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, south of the Naples Zoo off Goodlette-Frank Road. Learn more about the Conservancy’s work and how to support the quality of life in Southwest Florida www.conservancy.org.

Tickets available for Annual Horizon Council Annual Meeting on Jan. 29

Diana Kander

The Lee County Economic Development Office, the Horizon Council and Horizon Foundation will host the 2016 Annual Meeting on Friday, Jan. 29 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, 1380 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers. To register online, visit www.horizoneventsite.com.

Now in its 25th year, the Horizon Council invites local business and community professionals to celebrate 25 years of progress, look forward to 2016 and hear from New York Times Best-Selling Author Diana Kander, this year’s keynote speaker.

Kander is a successful entrepreneur, having founded and sold a number of ventures, and a Senior Fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the largest non-profit in the world dedicated to entrepreneurship and education. A Georgetown-educated attorney who left a successful practice to launch her first company, Kander draws on her experience as a founder, investor, and academic to design and implement curriculum in educational institutions and the private sector.

Businesses interested in Horizon Foundation “PaceSetter” Investor/Sponsor opportunities and recognition at the Annual Meeting, please contact B. Pat O’Rourke at bporourke@leegov.com.

The Lee County Economic Development Office works to attract new and diversified businesses resulting in high-wage, high skilled jobs; retain and encourage expansion of existing businesses; and improve the overall business environment in Lee County.  They offer a wide array of services for local, domestic and international businesses. For information on the Lee County Economic Development Office, visit LeeCountyBusiness.com.

The Horizon Council is a public-private advisory board established in 1991 to advise the Lee County Board of Commissioners on economic development issues. The Council’s mission is to improve Lee County’s business environment, retain and encourage expansion of existing businesses, and attract new and diversified employers. It is the only public-private partnership of Lee County Government and business leaders. The Horizon Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) organizations established as a fundraising vehicle enabling individuals and businesses to actively support the program of work of the Horizon Council and the Lee County Economic Development Office. For more information, visit www.leecountybusiness.com or call 239-338-3161.

Pavese Law Firm partner Katherine English appointed to American Farm Bureau Federation’s Issue Advisory Committee on Water and Water Quality

Pavese Law Firm partner Katherine English has been appointed to serve a two-year term as chair on the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Issue Advisory Committee on Water and Water Quality. The American Farm Bureau Federation, or AFBF, works to enhance and strengthen the lives of rural Americans and to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities through legislative action.

As the chair Katherine Englishof the Issue Advisory Committee on Water and Water Quality, English will work with staff and members and her fellow committee members to make recommendations on issues of the Clean Water Act, national and regional water storage programs, Army Corps of Engineers’ water-related efforts, flood control, and she will provide issue recommendations to the AFBF board of directors as needed.

English joined Pavese Law Firm in 1994 and became a partner in 2000. She has extensive agricultural experience. Before entering law school, she worked as a field representative for a citrus grower’s cooperative, and she continues to be involved in her family’s farming operations. English is experienced in surface water management, water use and private property rights, including federal environmental permitting and compliance in regard to the Clean Water Act, the Food Security Act and the Endangered Species Act. During her legal career, she has practiced before a variety of government agencies including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Southwest Florida Water Management District, South Florida Water Management District, Army Corps of Engineers, United States Department of Agriculture, United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency. English is a member of the American Bar Association and the Lee County Bar Association.

In addition, English serves on: The Florida Farm Bureau Association’s Natural Resources Advisory Committee; past president and member of the board of the directors for the University of Florida Leadership and Education Foundation Inc.; a member of the board of directors for Redlands Christian Migrant Association; chair of the membership committee for SHARE Council for the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences; and a member of the board of directors for United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades counties.

Pavese Law Firm is a full-service law firm with offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and West Palm Beach. The firm provides a broad range of legal services for individuals, families, small businesses and large corporations. Practice areas include agricultural, banking and finance, bankruptcy, business and taxation, civil litigation, community association, employment, environmental and water, estate planning, probate and trust, family, land use and government, and real estate law. Established in 1949 as a one-person general practice firm, Pavese Law Firm has grown into one of the largest legal practices in Southwest Florida. With a long history of service to Southwest Florida, Pavese Law Firm has played a significant role in the growth of local businesses, communities and major development projects. For more information, visit www.paveselaw.com.

Attorneys Craig R. Hersch and Michael B. Hill host Florida Residency and Estate Planning Workshop in Sanibel and Fort Myers Feb. 4 and Feb. 5

Attorneys Craig R. Hersch and Michael B. Hill, partners with Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A., will host a Florida Residency and Estate Planning Workshop Thursday Feb. 4 at 2 p.m. at Sanibel Community House, located at 2173 Periwinkle way in Sanibel, and Friday, Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. at Temple Beth El, located at 16225 Winkler Road in Fort Myers. The workshops will feature discussions on how estate law in Florida differs from other states, considerations and advantages for declaring residency in Florida, benefits to updating wills and trusts to Florida law and other tax law-related matters.

To encourage Florida Craig R Hersch-residents to keep their legal documents up-to-date, Hersch and Hill will offer attendees the opportunity to arrive 30 minutes before the workshop with a current copy of estate planning documents to receive a confidential, complimentary written trust analysis. In addition to this service, all attendees will receive a free Florida Estate Planning Guide. For more information, or to register for the upcoming workshop, call 239-425-9379.

Hersch is a Florida Bar Board Certified Wills, Trusts & Estates attorney and holds his Florida CPA license. Hersch is a partner at Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A. and has created several trademarked processes tied to his estate planning and administration practice, including The Family Estate & Legacy Program™ and The Estate Settlement Program™. He is the author of two books, Common Cents Estate Planning and Legal Matters When a Loved One Dies, and is working on two additional books that are anticipated for publication in 2016. His work has appeared in several professional journals, including The Practical Tax Lawyer, Trusts & Estates Magazine, and The Florida Bar Journal. Hersch also writes a weekly estate planning column that is published in Sanibel’s Island Sun newspaper and on his firm’s blog at www.sbshlaw.com/blog. Hersch is a multiple graduate of the University of Florida with accounting and law degrees and has provided his expertise as a continuing education lecturer for The Florida Bar and the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Hersch holds an AV Martindale Hubbell rating, the highest attainable by the independent national attorney rating service, has been selected as a Worth 100 Top Attorney and has been named to the 2015 Super Lawyers list, a highly-esteemed recognition given to no more than five percent of attorneys in Florida.

Hill concentrates his practice in estate and wealth preservation and business succession planning. He has extensive tax, legal and technology skills, enabling hthumbnaim to create unique plans to meet his clients’ individual and family needs. Hill is a double graduate of the University of Florida, receiving his Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 1998, and his Juris Doctor, with honors, in 2001. He is a member of the Florida Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the Lee County Bar Association. Hill has also received recognition on the 2015 Super Lawyers list, an honor awarded to Florida’s top five percent of attorneys.

Originall y founded in 1924, Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A. provides personalized advice and legal services on matters ranging from estate planning, probate and trust administration, asset protection strategies, real estate law and transactions, and business, corporation and banking law.

The firm partners approach client needs from a unique perspective, actively listening, to assist its clients in accomplishing their goals. The firm utilizes the most advanced research, analysis and technology available. Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A. is recognized with the Martindale-Hubbell “AV” rating, the highest attainable from the independent national attorney and law firm rating service.

The attorneys at Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A. have and will continue to take an active role in the Southwest Florida community, serving on various business boards and charitable foundations. For more information, visit www.sbshlaw.com or call 239-334-1141.

Attorney Craig R. Hersch to speak at Estate Planning Council of Lee County and Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of Lee County, Inc. meeting Jan. 21

Attorney Craig R. Hersch, partner at Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A., will speak at the annual joint meeting for Estate Planning Council of Lee County and Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of Lee County, Inc., which will be held on Thursday, Jan. 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cypress Lake Country Club, located at 6767 Winkler Road in Fort Myers. In a lecture geared toward estate planning professionals and those involved in charitable giving, Hersch’s presentation, entitled “The Four Freedoms,” will illuminate on the four freedoms that everyone seeks: time, money, relationship and purpose.

Hersch will begin by reviewing how technology has commoditized many businesses and professional practices, then discuss what clients truly look for when hiring a professional, including leadership, relationship and creativity. He will also depict how the four freedoms of time, money, relationship and purpose build in sequential order. Hersch has been practicing law in Lee County for more than 26 years, and has published two books as well as several articles in legal and tax trade journals.Craig R  Hersch

Hersch is a Florida Bar Board Certified Wills, Trusts & Estates attorney and holds his Florida CPA license. Hersch is a partner at Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A. and has created several trademarked processes tied to his estate planning and administration practice, including The Family Estate & Legacy Program™ and The Estate Settlement Program™. He is the author of two books, Common Cents Estate Planning and Legal Matters When a Loved One Dies, and is working on two additional books that are anticipated for publication in 2016. His work has appeared in several professional journals, including The Practical Tax Lawyer, Trusts & Estates Magazine, and The Florida Bar Journal. Hersch also writes a weekly estate planning column that is published in Sanibel’s Island Sun newspaper and on his firm’s blog at www.sbshlaw.com/blog. Hersch is a multiple graduate of the University of Florida with accounting and law degrees and has provided his expertise as a continuing education lecturer for The Florida Bar and the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Hersch holds an AV Martindale Hubbell rating, the highest attainable by the independent national attorney rating service, has been selected as a Worth 100 Top Attorney and has been named to the 2015 Super Lawyers list, a highly-esteemed recognition given to no more than five percent of attorneys in Florida.

Members of the Estate Planning Council of Lee County or Partnership for Philanthropic Planning will receive pre-paid reservation options, and guests will have the opportunity to pay at the door with a $30 registration fee. Reservations can be submitted on the Estate Planning Council of Lee County website at www.EPCLC.org. For more information about Hersch or Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A., call 239-334-1141 or visit www.sbshlaw.com.

Originally founded in 1924, Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A. provides personalized advice and legal services on matters ranging from estate planning, probate and trust administration, asset protection strategies, real estate law and transactions, and business, corporation and banking law.

The firm partners approach client needs from a unique perspective, actively listening, to assist its clients in accomplishing their goals. The firm utilizes the most advanced research, analysis and technology available. Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A. is recognized with the Martindale-Hubbell “AV” rating, the highest attainable from the independent national attorney and law firm rating service.

The attorneys at Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A. have and will continue to take an active role in the Southwest Florida community, serving on various business boards and charitable foundations. For more information, visit www.sbshlaw.com or call 239-334-1141.

Lee County Plan Amendment decision on River Hall declared noncompliant

Conservancy Logo

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida recently participated in proceedings regarding a hot topic for debate in Lee County: the adopted Lee County Plan Amendment decision for River Hall and the concern over “overriding public necessity.” Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Suzanne Van Wyk has ruled that a Lee County Plan Amendment should not have been approved by Lee County. Judge Van Wyk determined that adopted amendment is contrary to the Caloosahatchee Shores Community Plan because no finding of “overriding public necessity” was made to support removing the land from the rural lands category. This ruling sets an important standard for Lee County development that will protect rural communities from being demolished. The Order can be found at this link: https://www.doah.state.fl.us/ALJ/searchDOAH

Ralf Brookes Attorney for the petitioners said, “This is an important recommended order that sets a precedent that supports community plans in Lee County with similar language.”

Expert planning opinion testimony was presented by Julianne Thomas, senior growth management specialist at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Inc. in the proceedings who said, “Comprehensive Plans are meant to be a vision for how the citizens in a community want to grow. In Lee County, community plans are created by citizen planning efforts. Those community plans are important, and this order gives legal significance to their plans and vision for the future.”

The Caloosahatchee Shores community plan is the result of a community planning effort and was adopted as part of the Lee County comprehensive plan.

The plan amendment, approved by a 4-1 vote on June 3, 2015 as Ordinance 15-10, would have increased density on 585 acres in the River Hall development located in the Caloosahatchee Shores Planning Area by changing the land use designation from the rural land category to the sub-outlying suburban land category.

This change would have effectively doubled the allowable density from one unit per acre in the rural land category to two units per acre in the sub-outlying suburban land category in the 585-acre amendment area.

The Caloosahatchee Shores community plan specifically requires that at least three members of the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) make a finding of overriding public necessity in order to remove land from the rural land category in the Caloosahatchee Shores Planning Area.

In this case, 585 acres of land was removed from the rural land category without the required finding of “overriding public necessity.”

Lee County residents of River Hall as well as other Lee County residents from other Lee communities with similar language in their community plans, challenged the legality of this amendment, and requested a formal administrative hearing.

After conducting a full day long evidentiary hearing on October 12, 2015 the ALJ made findings and concluded that the comprehensive plan amendment was “not in compliance” with Florida’s Community Planning Act because it was inconsistent with the plain language contained in the Caloosahatchee Shores community plan.

The ALJ agreed with the residents entering a recommend order in their favor and against Lee County and the developers of the proposed project.

This is an important decision upholding community plans and requiring local governments to follow the rules, guidelines and requirements set out in their adopted comprehensive plans, including community plans adopted through the community planning efforts to promote community vision for future growth.

The Petitioners in this proceeding were represented by attorney Ralf Brookes, who is board certified in City, County and Local Government Law.

Expert planning opinion testimony was presented by Julianne Thomas, senior growth management specialist at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Inc. in the proceedings.

For more information about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, call 239-262-0304 or visit www.Conservancy.org.

About the Conservancy of Southwest Florida:

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a not-for-profit environmental protection organization with a 50 year history focused on the issues impacting the water, land wildlife and future of Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Conservancy accomplishes this mission through the combined efforts of its experts in the areas of environmental science, policy, education and wildlife rehabilitation. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, world-class Nature Center and von Arx Wildlife Hospital are headquartered in Naples, Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, south of the Naples Zoo off Goodlette-Frank Road. Learn more about the Conservancy’s work and how to support the quality of life in Southwest Florida www.conservancy.org.

Tickets, sponsorships available for The News-Press Market Watch 2016: The Truth About The Market

mw_2016 logo

Three local real estate experts will provide insight into the local residential, land and commercial real estate industries at The News-Press Market Watch 2Denny Grimes016: The Truth About The Market on Tuesday, Feb. 23 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Harborside Event Center in downtown Fort Myers. Throughout the presentation, the speakers will address a range of topics, including home values, building permits andpopulation growth, and will explain how these aspects coalesce to impact the big picture for Southwest Florida and individual homeowners and real estate professionals.

Tickets to The News-Press Market Watch: The Truth About The Market event are now on sale, with individual tickets available for $65 per person foStan Stouderr general admission single tickets, $565 for premium placement reserved tables for eight and $695 for reserved tables of 10. Tickets and table prices include admission for all presentations, the networking session and refreshments for attendees. A cash bar will be available. Registration for The News-Press Market Watch 2016 is available online at
www.
MarketWatch2016.com.

Presenters for The News-Press Market Watch: The Truth About The Market include Denny Grimes, residential real estate expert and president of Denny Grimes & Company; Randy Thibaut, land sales and development expert and owner and founder of Land Solutions, Inc.; and Stan Stouder, CCIM, commercial real estate expert and founding partner with CRE Consultants. In addition to receiving valuable local market data and forecasts from well-known Southwest Florida real estate experts on commercial and residential real estate, all attendees will receive a comprehensive market data booklet with detailed market statistical information. Randy Thibaut

Sponsorships are available for Market Watch 2016 and detailed sponsorship opportunities are available at www.MarketWatch2016.com. Event sponsors for The News-Press Market Watch 2016 include The News-Press as title sponsor; platinum sponsors Greater Fort Myers Board of Realtors and Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A.; gold sponsors Barraco and Associates, Gates Construction, Palm Printing, Priority Marketing and Roetzel & Andress; and silver sponsors Chapman Insurance, CRE Consultants, Land Solutions, Inc. and Law Offices of Kevin F. Jursinski & Associates. For additional inquiries, please email marketwatch@prioritymarketing.com or call 239-267-2638.