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Developers urge council to make zoning changes

By Staff | Feb 8, 2010

Time is running out for Cape Coral to rezone certain properties both north and south of Pine Island Road before Amendment Four, the so called “hometown democracy” amendment, is voted on in November.
If passed by voters statewide, Amendment Four would require all individual zoning changes to be put on ballots for votes.
Developers and city leaders fear the amendment would not only hinder future commercial growth in the city, but destroy any hopes of diversifying a city-wide tax base that is 93 percent residential.
A small group of developers, including Steve Krieg and Dan Creighton, wanted to make their case for quick changes to the Cape Coral City Council Monday night.
They wanted to focus specifically on property south of Pine Island Road along six-lane thoroughfares like Santa Barbara Boulevard, Del Prado Boulevard and Pine Island Road itself.
They argue those roads are no longer suitable for single-family or multi-family residential properties, and should be rezoned now as commercial, ahead of the amendment four vote.
“We feel like there’s so much at stake we have to get this done,” Krieg said. “We have got to find a way to get this done … we really feel like this is the road to recovery for the Cape.”
Should the amendment pass, future ballots would literally be clogged by hundreds of independent land use votes, stalling development for unseen amounts of time.
Creighton, also a Community Redevelopment Agency board member, said that without commercial growth, Cape Coral would never develop beyond its “bedroom community” status.
He said he fears that employers and employees alike would flee to other communities in Lee County, including Fort Myers and Bonita Springs.
“We are going to be a non-self sufficient community,” Creighton said.
City Council supports the idea of revamping zones before hometown democracy hit, but is worried that time is running out.
To that end, the board was right, as City Manager Carl Schwing said that the time frame was tight. He added that “hundreds” of acres south of Pine Island Road were being looked at along with the acreage north of Pine Island Road, but couldn’t guarantee that everything would be finalized before, and if, hometown democracy kicks in.
“To do anything more than what we’re proposing now … we probably don’t have the time,” Schwing said.
Councilmember Pete Brandt suggested bringing in outside help to study the zoning issues, and agreed that zoning changes should have been done a long time ago.
“This is something that’s long overdue,” Brandt said.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Board will be discussing the issue during a special meeting Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 9 a.m., in council chambers.