Council OKs land use changes at hearings
By DREW WINCHESTER
The city will have hundreds of acres of new commercial space in the coming years.
The Cape Coral City Council approved a vast majority of the proposed land use changes at a transmittal hearing on Wednesday and Thursday this week, an effort that will hopefully provide more of a balance to the city’s tax base, which is overwhelmingly residential.
Parcels north of Pine Island Road were handled Tuesday, parcels south of Pine Island Road on Wednesday.
Council spent two days tweaking some of the land use changes, like adjusting an L-shaped lot at the corner of Surfside Boulevard and Southwest 23rd Street.
Homeowner Carlos Rivera’s property is smack dab in the middle of a future commercial activity center, a distinction that neither Rivera nor his Realtor knew about when he bought the home less than a year ago.
Rivera asked council to consider his position as a homeowner, and cited the adjacent Shops at Surfside shopping plaza, which has vacancies, as a reason the city does not need more commercial space.
Council eventually voted to remove Rivera’s lot from the parcel.
Rivera, who just retired from 20 years in the military, said he appreciated the council’s decision.
“I know it’s a complicated issue,” Rivera said. “But I think this was going to affect me one way or the other.”
Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz pushed to have Rivera’s lot classified as a commercial activity center, which would give Rivera considerable negotiating power if a developer were to decide to build on the L-shaped parcel.
Instead council voted to remove Rivera’s lot from the parcel.
Even with the complications of the land use changes, Rivera said he doesn’t regret coming to Cape Coral.
“I love the house. I love the area,” Rivera said.
Bob Horn, owner and developer of the Shops at Surfside, said the city is doing the right thing by making these land use changes.
Horn, a Chicago-based developer, said he came to the transmittal hearing to urge council to change the CAC designation to commercial professional.
While council didn’t make the change, Horn said he feels that Cape Coral is well positioned to move forward with future commercial development.
“You’re going to see some real growth here,” Horn said.
The land use changes now go to the Department of Community Affairs in Tallahassee for approval, then before council again in August for the final vote.