Why It Matters
Annexation by Special Act occurs when the Florida Legislature approves changes to a municipality’s boundaries. In this case, the City of Cape Coral is asking to annex enclaves, or properties that have not been incorporated by previous annexation efforts. Several of the enclaves are primarily located near the western boundary of the city’s limits and of concern to us.
About half of the enclaves being targeted for annexation are located within the Greater Pine Island Water Association (GPIWA) service area. If annexation occurs, GPIWA would be negatively impacted, due to changing service area boundaries.
Furthermore, property owners in these enclaves could experience changes in their level of service, as well as increased property taxes and fees.
And it’s important to note: Property owners in these enclaves have no say in whether their neighborhoods are annexed into the city.
The Greater Pine Island community must stand together to oppose involuntary annexation attempts and protect the character, charm and quality of life in these communities. Property owners deserve a say in their future, especially when it comes to the long-term, well-being of their community.
What is annexation?
Annexation is the process of bringing property into city limits and is one of the main ways cities grow. Florida law allows for several different types of annexation, which include voluntary annexation and annexation by Special Act.
What is the difference between voluntary and annexation by Special Act?
The most common types of annexation fall under an umbrella of voluntary annexation, which requires some form of consent from the property owners in the area. That could occur through a petition method, where a petition is submitted to the municipality that bears the signatures of all the property owners in the area proposed to be annexed. It could also occur through a voter referendum of all registered voters in the proposed area. In each of these scenarios, the land must be contiguous to the city limits and cannot create enclaves.
Annexation by Special Act occurs when the Florida Legislature approves a local bill to extend a municipality’s borders. This form of annexation is the only form of annexation in Florida that does not require approval from members of the community being annexed.
How does annexation by Special Act occur?
Annexation by Special Act requires a member of the Florida Legislature, in this case a member of the Lee County legislative delegation, to file a bill to expand the boundaries of a municipality. These bills are often referred to as local bills and must be approved by the entire local legislative delegation before being filed.
Once filed, the bill must be approved by the Florida House and Florida Senate and not vetoed by the Governor before it becomes law.
What properties are being considered for annexation?
Cape Coral has identified several enclaves, or properties adjacent to city limits that have not been incorporated into the city, to be annexed as part of the proposed Special Act. Most of the enclaves are assembled along SW Pine Island or Pondella Road, with a cluster of properties along Sand Road in northwest Cape and another group of properties on Whispering Pines Road.
About half of the enclaves located along Pine Island Road are located within the Greater Pine Island Water Association (GPIWA) service area. If these properties are annexed, the city would eventually need to provide water, sewer and irrigation services.
What does this mean for me?
Property owners within the GPIWA and MPIFCD service areas could experience increased taxes and a loss of high-quality, essential services if annexation occurs.
GPIWA provides water to residential, commercial and other users through a longstanding agreement with Lee County to unincorporated areas. This means that, if parts of the GPIWA service area are annexed, the association can only continue to provide services through the end of the existing agreement. Once that agreement expires, water utilities would be provided by the City of Cape Coral. This could lead to increased utility costs to the annexed properties.
Annexation efforts could lead to increased taxes for property owners in newly annexed areas. Ad valorem taxes within city limits are generally higher than those in unincorporated Lee County. The City of Cape Coral also imposes a 7% public service tax on electricity and charges an additional fire assessment fee. Additionally, annexed areas would fall under the City of Cape Coral Code Enforcement rules.
What does annexation mean for GPIWA and MPIFCD?
Annexation efforts could have a significant impact on the long-term health of the water association and fire department. As more properties within their respective service areas are annexed into the City of Cape Coral, the GPIWA will lose revenue.
The GPIWA is one of the longest operating nonprofit water utilities in Lee County, providing clean, safe drinking water to Pine Island and the surrounding communities since 1967. The association is governed by a Board of Directors, which has the authority to establish a minimum, monthly base rate for services, which is charged to its members.
If annexation were to move forward, the GPIWA would not only be limited in its ability to serve customers, but also collect necessary operating rates. This would have a long-term impact on the financial health and viability of the organization.
Has Cape Coral attempted to annex enclaves by Special Act in the past?
Yes. In 2003, then-Florida State Rep. Jeff Kottkamp sponsored legislation that would have allowed Cape Coral to annex several enclaves. While the bill was approved by the Florida House and the Florida Senate, then-Gov. Jeb Bush ultimately vetoed the proposal. In his veto letter, Bush cited concerns raised by “affected and interested parties” as a reason for his veto. Kottkamp also removed support for the bill, due to public outcry, and was among those encouraging Bush to veto it.
Where does the Lee Board of County Commissioners stand on annexation by Special Act?
During the Lee Board of County Commissioners regular meeting on Nov. 15, the Board voted unanimously to include a policy statement opposing legislative annexation of unincorporated land into city boundaries
What can I do?
It’s important that members of the Lee Board of County Commissioners and the Lee County legislative delegation hear from property owners and community members that could be impacted by these annexation attempts. For more information about how you can take action, click here.
City of Cape Coral Committee of the Whole - Enclave Annexation Strategy
Map of Enclaves
Map of Enclaves
Cape Coral-GPIWA Boundaries 2002
Cape Coral-GPIWA Boundaries 2022
Cape Coral Breeze -
Involuntary Annexation Q&A
Working together, we can stop the ongoing attempt by the City of Cape Coral to annex enclaves through Special Act, including several in the GPIWA service area. Contact the Cape Coral City Council, Lee Board of County Commissioners and the Lee County legislative delegation today to voice your opposition of these attempts.
Cape Coral City Council
Mayor John Gunter
Councilman William E. (Bill) Steinke, District 1
Councilman Dan Sheppard, District 2
Councilman Tom Hayden, District 3
Councilwoman Patty L. Cummings, District 4
Councilman Robert Welsh, District 5
Councilman Keith Long, District 6
Councilwoman Jessica Cosden, District 7
Lee County Board of County Commissioners
Commissioner Kevin Ruane, District 1
Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass, District 2
Commissioner Ray Sandelli, District 3
Commissioner Brian Hamman, District 4
Commissioner Michael Greenwell, District 5
Lee County Legislative Delegation
Rep. Spencer Roach, District 76
Rep. Mike Giallombardo, District 77
Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka, District 78
Rep. Adam Botana, District 80
Sen. Ben Albritton, District 27
Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, District 28