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Council rejects special exception request for gas tank

August 28, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Cape Coral City Council rejected a hearing examiner's recommendation and unanimously denied a special exception to allow a boat rental company to install a gas tank at the Del Prado Boulevard strip mall where it does business.

The council sided with neighbors on the canal where Paradise Boat Rental is located. Those residents expressed concerns about compatibility, possible pollution to the canal and a failure to meet the basic requirements.

Paradise Boat Rental is at 3013 Del Prado Blvd.

"We're obviously pleased the council followed the law and applied the facts to it appropriately," said Eric Feichthaler, the attorney who represented the Cornwallis and Palaco Grande neighborhood associations. "Everyone in this room is pro-business, but at the end of the day, their application did not fit in with the requirements of city code."

Michael Dixon, owner of Paradise Boat Rental, said he needed the fuel pump as a way to fill up his rental boats as opposed to filling them through five-gallon containers and to remain competitive in the boat rental business and profitable through a mark-up on refueling.

The applicant, Bob Gerrero, is the owner of the strip mall where the rental place is located.

Dixon also said that much of what the residents were hearing was through faulty information and hyperbole that resulted in near hysteria, and that City Council should not listen to what they had to say, which drew a buzz from the dozens of residents who came to the meeting.

Feichthaler said the special exception Dixon sought is for self-service only stations such as what they have at most convenience stores. He also cited numerous code violations at the strip mall from a previous boat rental and said that the 500-gallon fuel tank is not vital to the health and welfare of the residents.

City staff also made a presentation stating the exception did meet all standards for compatibility, location, setbacks, lot frontage and access.

Staff recommended approval of the fuel tank under numerous conditions in regards to buffering, the use to refuel their boats only, tank size limits and numerous other conditions.

Since Feichthaler made the residents' case so thoroughly, public comment was brief, with most everyone expressing their concerns.

Resident Dan Sheppard was for the plan, however. He said much of what the residents were feeling was fear from what they went through from the previous business that was there. He also said the tank is a better alternative than a five-gallon container, which he saw explode one time.

"I see people filling up their five-gallon jugs and put them in the garage or along the side of the house. That's extremely unsafe," Sheppard said. "Having the five-gallon containers pollutes even more."

City Council came to the conclusion that the rental place had existed without the fuel pump and will continue to do so.

"My big issue is it's the wrong thing in the wrong place," said Councilmember Rick Williams, who refused to support it.

Councilmember Jennifer Nelson made a motion to pass a resolution to overrule the hearing examiner's ruling, which passed 8-0, much to the glee of the community.

"I am so relieved because as one of the council members said it was the wrong application for the wrong place. We were so concerned about fire, water pollution and I'm delighted with the result," said resident Joan Hampton.



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