Council approves utilities — again
Cape Coral City Council members approved four resolutions Monday that will bring water utilities to 57,000 properties north of Pine Island Road (commonly known as North 1-8) and water, sewer and irrigation utilities to 6,200 properties in SW 6/7.
Homeowners in those areas will be sent notices this week informing them of impending assessments and fees that average $6,000 in North 1-8 and $17,000 in SW 6/7.
The resolutions were passed in identical 5-2 votes, with Councilmembers Bill Deile and Pete Brandt voting against the UEP, and Mayor Jim Burch abstaining because his company, DRMP, has done design work in North 1-8.
Council members who voted in favor of the UEP were quick to point out they did not take the controversial decision lightly, and that current utility customers were likely to suffer hefty increases — a utility rate increase of 92.5 percent was scheduled to take effect Oct. 1 — if the UEP did not move forward.
Councilmember Gloria Tate scolded Deile and Brandt for having “no plan” for the customers facing the rate hike.
“I don’t know what they’re going to say to the 59,000 ratepayers,” Tate said.
Some community members in favor of the UEP had trouble with the North 1-8 portion of the project, saying it will cost more to install water utilities first, before going back later to install sewer and irrigation utilities.
“It promotes urban sprawl,” former Cape Coral mayor and executive director of the Council for Progress Joe Mazurkiewicz said. “The new construction in the water only area will far exceed the new construction anywhere else in the city.”
But Councilmember Tim Day said the project is being done piecemeal out of necessity — the harsh economic times precludes installing all three utilities, with property owners incurring large assessments and fees, as in SW 6/7.
“In a perfect world, put in all three of them, that’d be great. But when you’ve got a lot of homes out there that are first homes, there’s just not another way to handle this,” Day said.
The notices mailed this week will also alert homeowners to three public meetings, held July 7, 8, and 9 at 5:30 p.m. at Mariner High School to discuss the issue.