Published: Jan 06, 2011 12:15 AM EST
Updated: Jan 05, 2011 8:52 PM EST

CAPE CORAL, Fla -  New details in the battle over the Ceitus barrier and boat lift in the North Spreader Canal.

The issue boils down to tax payers shelling out millions of dollars or protecting the environment.

Wednesday, the Planning and Zoning Commission made a bold move: expressing their concerns about the project.

"It's wrong. I don't know when we are going to figure this out. It's wrong," said Steve Cristaldi, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The commission said they're against rebuilding the Ceitus barrier & boat lift.

They voted to support a petition driven by the Northwest Neighborhood Association.

The petition is to encourage the Department of Environmental Protection to deny a permit for the project.

Instead, they want DEP to look at other alternatives.

"Every intelligent body that has worked on that project has said it should not go back in," said Gene Wolfe, a member of the Planning & Zoning Commission.

Nate Bliss is one of the 4,400 homeowners in the northwest area against the reconstruction of the Ceitus barrier because they believe it will ultimately be worse for the environment.

"It's going to flush out elsewhere. It will not hold water. It's likely to cause more environmental damage," Bill said.

 But environmentalist on Pine Island support it.

They argue since the Ceitus barrier was breached and removed several years ago, all sorts of fertilizer run off and other pollutants are drifting into the Matlacha Pass.

They say this is killing the wildlife and destroying the water."

The source of those pollutants, they say, are coming form canals and homes in the northwest Cape.

People living in the area strongly deny those claims.

"The fact that the Cape Coral waters are polluting Matlacha Pass, that is not true,' Bliss said.

Tests done on the water were inconclusive, so it's unclear who is responsible for actually causing the the pollutants.

Supporters of a new barrier say it will help protect the wetlands by keeping the pollutants out.

People in northwest Cape say the barrier breached in the past, it will again, and this time cause more environmental damage.

At a cost of 4 million dollars to build the barrier, Councilman Peter Brandt says that's an expensive mistake to taxpayers.

Nate Bliss agrees.

"It's a huge pocketbook issue for every citizen of the City of Cape Coral. We're talking lots of dollars," he said.

Within the next six months, the Department of Environmental Protection will decide whether or not to issue a permit to build the Ceitus barrier and boat lift.

Before then, the Northwest Neighborhood Association hopes to get thousands of signatures from people all over Cape Coral against the project.

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