A portion of Pelican Landing voted against joining the City of Bonita Springs on Tuesday, according to this article from the Fort Myers News Press, but the divisive land battle between Estero and Bonita may not be over just yet.
Individual residents whose properties are contiguous with the City of Bonita Springs have until April 1 to join the city, according to an agreement by Bonita and Southwest Florida legislators.
“This whole process is about self-determination,” Bonita Springs Mayor Ben Nelson said. “The community of Estero doesn’t own any of the property we’re talking about. The people who want to annex will annex if they want to. Part of the agreement is if someone or if a Hyatt wants to annex in they have the right to as a property owner.”
On Tuesday night, the 20 percent of Pelican Landing in unincorporated Lee County rejected Bonita’s annexation referendum meaning residents will now be eligible to vote with other unincorporated Estero residents to join the proposed Village of Estero in November.
“It was pretty close, but this wasn’t about a victory or a defeat,” Nelson said. “It was a referendum about what the people wanted to do. The people in this area voted to stay in unincorporated Lee County for now, and I totally respect it. It was what we wanted to find out. It was a question we wanted to answer.”
The city hosted the referendum because Pelican Landing’s homes have been split between Estero and Bonita for years. There are instances where one homeowner lives in unincorporated Estero, and his neighbor in Bonita. In fact, about 20 percent of Pelican Landing is in unincorporated Lee County; the remainder is in Bonita.
Nelson said Pelican Landing residents hoping to join Bonita still can before April 1.
“Some of the Pelican Landing people on the border of Bonita Springs, they can still voluntarily annex in,” Nelson said.