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Council to pick transmission lines route downtown

By Staff | Oct 6, 2009

A decade’s long debate will end in two weeks when the Cape Coral City Council decides what to do with transmission lines in the Community Redevelopment Agency’s district.
Council members will pick one of three routes for the new lines.
The routes are along the north side of Southeast 46th Street, the south side of Southeast 46th Lane and the south side of Southeast 47th Terrace.
The choice will help council avoid potential litigation from the Lee County Electric Cooperative, which plans to sue the city if a decision is not made.
Council also protected the city from possible litigation from property owners in the CRA district by striking an indemnification agreement with LCEC prior to its workshop Monday.
Though some work is needed on the agreement, the city absolves itself of responsibility if property owners along the chosen route feel the transmission lines are hindering development and they decide to bring litigation.
Councilmember Eric Grill, who wants the transmission lines to run above ground on the south side of 46th Lane, does not think the agreement will be necessary.
“With regards to indemnification … this doesn’t stop them from developing their properties,” he said. “The lines will not be against the buildings.”
LCEC has long maintained the new transmission lines are desperately needed to prevent a major power outage in the CRA district.
CRA officials have maintained that burying the lines will help development in the district.
A major discord erupted on both sides as a result.
Decisions, such as a potential route for the new lines, whether the lines would be above or below ground and trying to find a funding mechanism to bury the lines, have drawn out the debate for 10 years.
CRA Vice Chairman Don Heisler said the council meeting gave him no indication of which way council members would vote in two weeks.
Council had not come to terms Monday with the indemnification agreement, asking city attorneys to do additional work.
Heisler said that until the agreement is finalized, he does not know what will happen.
“I’m not sure they’re going to make a decision until the indemnification agreement is settled,” he said.
LCEC spokesman Rick Fuson said the company is comfortable with the agreement as it stands.
Even without the agreement, Fuson and LCEC do not see potential lawsuits from property owners along the proposed routes.
“We’ve moved as far as we feel we could move with the indemnity agreement,” he said.