Originally published by The News-Press on April 20, 2022 by Amy Bennett Williams

A legal petition filed by neighbors concerned about mangrove removal in the Siesta Isles development was dismissed Tuesday.

Petitioners say they’re already planning another round.

Last month, two residents who live across from the south Lee County project near Fort Myers Beach enlisted environmental attorney Ralf Brooks to help stop the clearing, which they say had overstepped the bounds of the project.

They worry the next phase of the development, which has been in the works for half a century, will destroy habitat, foul the water and make their homes more vulnerable to storms.

After the clearing came the cloudy tides – a wide plume of chalky stirred-up water in the project area. Late last month, drone photos showed what Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani called “probably the most blatant and extensive construction turbidity violation I have ever seen in such an environmentally sensitive area.”

But what caused the murky water remains in question. Though Brooks and his clients are convinced it was the project, Mark Ebelini, the developer’s attorney insists it wasn’t.

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