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Construction industry accepts permitting fees hike

By Staff | May 15, 2009

Editor’s note: This is a corrected version of the story. The fees discussed and approved by the CCCIA are not impact fees, but permitting fees. The Breeze regrets any confusion to our readers.

The economic crisis in Cape Coral and the nation has turned more than just homes upside down.
It has flipped economic paradigms and reversed market truths held as law just a few short years ago, making strange bedfellows for numerous industries.
Such was the case Thursday when the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association announced that it would support an increase in permitting fees during one of the worst times for the industry in recent memory.
The new fees will go before the city council during its meeting Monday, and could raise the cost of a building permit for a 20,000-square-foot retail store from $2,916 to $6,980. Permits for 2,500-square-foot single family homes could go from $522 to $1,866.
“I know this increase in fees does not come at a good time, but we could ask, ‘When is a good time?'” said Annette Carrasquillo, a former CCCIA president, during the group’s monthly meeting at La Venezia in Club Square.
The CCCIA worked with city staffers to help create the new fee structure, and obtained assurances the new fees will correspond with faster service.
A letter from Assistant City Manager Carl Schwing last month to the CCCIA pledged that the city would return calls made before 2 p.m. to inspectors within one hour and return permitting calls within 24 hours.
He also pledged that the city would provide an updated phone list of the Building Department to the CCCIA and maintain the list on the city’s Web site.
If enacted, some of the new fees will take effect July 6, while the rest will be in place by Aug. 1.
CCCIA members also received a legislative update from three levels of government Thursday, hearing from Mayor Jim Burch, Lee County Commissioner Tammy Hall and state Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral.
Burch warned of a tough budget fight ahead during a municipal election year.
“We’re about to embark on a major budget debate. We can’t dismantle our city. This is a city that I never want to be just a domicile where people have no sense of place or purpose,” he said.
Hall pointed to cooperation between the city and county, but noted that the county is not a direct partner with the Cape in negotiations over a proposed new aquatic facility.
“We had to take a step back because this is now a city of Cape Coral project. We will work, Lee County and Cape Coral, to make sure the people on this end of our community don’t miss this chance to diversify the economy,” she said.
Aubuchon highlighted bills he co-sponsored in the past year that are on their way to becoming law, including offering incentives for affordable housing and providing for the notification of local government after a beach closure by the Department of Health.
His proudest achievement, though, is securing funding for the widening of Pine Island Road from two lanes to four from Chiquita Boulevard west to Burnt Store Road.
Cape Coral has been trying to expand the road for more than 22 years.
“This past session we finally put in place the funds to complete that last stretch of road,” he said.