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Overflow crowd packs P&Z meeting; land use changes questioned

By Staff | Mar 3, 2010

It was standing room only during Wednesday’s Planning and Zoning meeting as residents poured out to vent their frustrations over proposed land use changes that would put many of their homes squarely in the sights of future commercial development.
The city recently mailed 30,000 letters to residents whose properties are within 500 feet of the proposed changes.
While the number of people that showed for Wednesday’s meeting wasn’t nearly as large, almost everyone had one thing on their mind: what do the changes mean to my property?
While some feared the changes, others like Stella Peters, president of the Northwest Neighborhood Association, said she understood the city is in a difficult position.
She said that none of the changes had come as a surprise.
“We’re comfortable with the ways things are,” she said. “We had some recommendations for two areas … but we’ve been following this from the beginning.”
The city is trying to push through the land use changes ahead of the Amendment 4 issue on the November ballot.
Should all the land use changes be approved by the state, city officials said Cape Coral’s tax base will become more diverse.
As it stands now, residential property tax accounts for 92 percent of the city’s tax base.
When, and if, all the proposed changes are approved, it will represent 3,000 total acres of land use change.
A total of 1,274 acres will be changed to commercial activity centers, or CAC, and 555 acres will be changed to commercial professional.
City officials have said that homeowners within CACs will be able to stay in their homes should those areas ever be developed commercially.
When the process of looking at which pieces of land use should be changed, city staff originally looked north of Pine Island Road.
Steve Krieg is one of three developers that pushed for changes south of Pine Island Road.
Krieg said he didn’t understand why developers have been made to be villains of the land use change, but that without the changes the city would have a difficult time moving forward.
“This isn’t a short-term fix,” Krieg said. “Cape Coral has a long way to go before we get out of the woods.”