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Land use changes will not result in immediate change

By Staff | Mar 31, 2010

Proponents of the forthcoming land use changes say the biggest hurdle the city has had to overcome has been the public misconceptions about what the changes really mean.
The changes they say, while widespread, will not have an immediate impact on neighborhoods, instead unfolding at a pace that will largely hinge on the economy’s recovery.
The changes also hold a certain amount of protection, as many will hold the distinction of being classified as commercial activity centers, or CAC, which offers a limited number of uses, compared to commercial professional classifications, which offer more.
The CAC’s, former Mayor Joe Mazurkiewicz said, will prevent six-lane roadways from developing into something similar to Del Prado.
“They (CAC’s) promote development that will blend in with the surrounding community,” said Mazurkiewicz.
Mazurkiewicz also said the amount of time it will take to pass the land use changes, in additon to waiting for the economy to bounce back, will likely push any major changes to the 5 – 10 year range.
Before the land use changes can reach the state level for approval, they must clear a city council hearing in April.
That hearing, on April 13 – 14, is a transmittal hearing, which gives city council the opportunity to either accept the changes as is, turn the proposal down entirely, or suggest more changes to the land use amendments.
City manager Carl Schwing said city staff will send the changes to Tallahassee roughly a week after council’s vote.
The key is to get the changes to the Department of Community Affairs well before the November election, when voters statewide will make a decision on amendment 4, the so-called Hometown Democracy amendment.
Schwing said the city is working under the gun because of that vote, and that greatly affected how staff approached the land use changes.
“We took the election date for Amendment 4 and worked our way backwards,” Schwing said.
The Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has already come out against Amendment 4, drafting a resolution stating their position.
Chamber President Mike Quaintance said most of the calls he’s fielded have simply dealt with the fear of the unknown.
“Most of our members are homeowners in the city, too,” he said. “They just want to know how that commercial development is going to affect their homes.”
Opponents of the land use changes have cited existing, empty commercial space, as the reason not to make the widespread changes.
Mazurkiewicz said the changes will help the city during build out, when the population is expected to top out at roughly 400,000, which he said was the total population of Lee County in the year 2,000.
“All the facilities that existed in 2000 … the same facilites will have to exist in Cape Coral to sustain our way of life,” he said.