Published: Mar 18, 2013 5:58 PM EDT
Updated: Mar 18, 2013 6:42 PM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - The fight to protect Cape Coral's wildlife. A land owner wants change the zoning to make it more attractive to sell or develop. But some people are afraid the change near the intersection of Burnt Store Road and Van Buren Parkway will harm the environment.

The area, about 128 acres, is home to some of southwest Florida's favorite species: the bald eagle and the gopher tortoise.
Alessia Leathers, with the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife group, worries that a change in zoning will destroy what she calls a pristine wetland.

"All the power will be in the hands of the owner of the land," she said. "They can do whatever they want under the basis of marketplace residential. They can build condos, strip malls."

First Community Bank of Southwest Florida owns this property. Avalon Engineering Vice President Cliff Repperger represents the bank. He argues the change will protect the land.

"In the past, along Burt Store Road, we've had people that have basically harvested the timber in the agriculture district, and have stripped the property. With marketplace residential, any development that has to happen out there will go through a planned development project with the city," he said.

"I think the bank is self serving, if they get the zoning changes the property will be worth more," said Dan Williams. He lives next to the property, and signed a petition. It says that says people are fine if the city only re-zones a small section. It also calls for an independent envionmental study.

If the city moves forward with the zoning change there are no plans for development at this time.

UPDATE: Cape Coral's city council sides with landowner in 7-1 vote, changing zoning to marketplace residential, opening it up for development.