Lee Future believes the election of Nick Batos to the Lee County Board of County Commissioners in 2020 will have a dramatic impact on the future of our county. When elected Batos plans on working with Frank Mann, who is seeking reelection in 2020, to change the direction of the county.
The following interview from Women for a Better Lee presents Batos’ platform clearly, and elaborates on why his priorities are a perfect fit for the future of this County.
We encourage our members and followers to share this message as widely as possible with your friends and networks.
Originally Published by Women for a Better Lee
Before endorsing Nick Batos for election to the Board of County Commissioners from District 3, the WFBL steering committee and Brain Trust members developed a questionnaire for Nick concerning his positions on our top priority quality of life issues: unmanaged growth and sprawl, environment and water quality, and obstacles to civic engagement. We are publishing the questionnaire and Nick’s answers below.
In addition, as part of our vetting, we met with Nick twice and grilled him regarding positions and political strategies. Notwithstanding our disappointment in failing to recruit a woman candidate, we strongly believe that Nick will make a responsive, knowledgeable and ethical county commissioner, supportive of our — and your — issues and independent of special interests.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: NICK BATOS, Council Member, Estero Village Council
Q. In your opinion, what are the most critical issues facing Lee County today?
A. In my opinion, the two most critical issues facing Lee County today are:
· WATER —We all know that clean water is probably the single most important issue. Without CLEAN water we would negatively affect our quality of life and would not be able to attract the tourists our economy needs. State and federal governments have finally stepped up and taken major steps to resolving the problems we have had that stem from north of Lake “O” and from the lake itself. But we MUST take steps ourselves to correct the pollution that we are causing from septic tanks and from the lack of enforcement of fertilizer ordinances.
· OVERDEVELOPMENT — I believe in growth but it should be smart growth. I do not think we should be allowing high density development in areas that have been recognized as rural or low density environmentally-sensitive lands. I firmly believe that the residents of Lee County do not want to live in a place that is paved over. They do not want another East Coast with overcrowded roads. I will always protect property rights, but will not just give increased density just because developers ask for it.
Q. What is your position on County Impact Fees?
A. I am, and have for many years been in favor of the impact fee system in which “growth pays for growth.” I testified 6 years ago opposing the county’s proposal to reduce impact fees to only 20% and have been opposed to the reduced impact fees ever since. This county action has cost us over $135 million and counting. In Estero, I voted for 100% impact fees and we have been charging that ever since our incorporation in 2014.
Q. What will you do to improve the transportation “gridlock” on some of our busiest roads?
A. This is not a one-answer-fits-all situation. In many cases, “gridlocked” roads are due to major problems at intersections. There are many things that can be done to intersections to greatly help. Those roads with major problems should be identified and prioritized, taking politics out of the equation, and start working on them ASAP.
The County should concentrate on repairing and expanding existing roads rather than developing new roads that allow for new development and sprawl.
Q. What is your plan to prevent further sprawl in Lee County?
A. In my mind the key to reducing sprawl is our County Comprehensive Plan and the community plans. These plans lay out what the citizens of Lee County want their county to be. Unfortunately, the current county commissioners have been reversing the Comprehensive Plan (i.e. the recent removal of map 14) and the Community Plan changes (the recent changes to the Bay Shore plan that allow for dense development in a rural area). The only way of preventing this is for a majority of commissioners to reverse the recent actions. The only way this is going to occur is to change the people sitting in those seats.
Q. What will you do to improve the relationship between the Lee County government and the Lee County School District?
A. If elected I will treat the school district as an important partner. I would work on getting other commissioners to help the school district so that our schools could become better and allow our students to get the best education possible. In my opinion, the current BoCC actually seems to treat the School Board as an adversary. I also believe that the school district should be allowed to set its own impact fee rate, so that it has enough money to pay for the growth that continues to come. I have been collaborating with the School Board on Estero schools for the last 2 years on the Estero Education Initiative that I created.
Q. Do you have any thoughts on how to improve civic engagement in Lee County?
A. I think there are a number of things the county commissioners could do to increase the participation of the public: 1) Allow public comments at workshops. (This would allow input before decisions are made). (2) Allow citizens to speak to commissioners on zoning matters. (3) But most important of all, elect county commissioners who are really willing to listen to citizens and not be aligned with the development community.
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