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Council rejects San Souci project

By Staff | May 25, 2010

Cape Coral City Council denied the controversial San Souci Bay development on Monday citing, in part, the delicate natural balance of the area and the lack of infrastructure needed to support it.
The project has caused lines to be drawn in the sand, with developer Michael Kerner and IAK Florida Builders squaring off against members of the Northwest Neighborhood Association, who feel the project will ruin their way of life.
Rich O’Donnell, past president of the Northwest Neighborhood Association, said they ultimately wanted to see more of a mixed use facility than what was being proposed.
Realizing, ultimately, something will be built in the area, O’Donnell said he never thought the NWNA would face the same project.
“We never thought it was going to come back,” O’Donnell said.
Speaking on behalf of developer Michael Kerner, Chris Spiro questioned why City Council would continually deny large scale projects. He cited the swim center decision, along with San Souci Bay, as reasons why developers would no longer come to Cape Coral.
“City Council has said repeatedly over the last 90 days to developers, ‘Don’t bring your business to Cape Coral,'” he said. “Shame on them.”
Councilmember Kevin McGrail, whose district would be home to the proposed development, said he could not support the project because of it’s a coastal high hazard area and the lack of infrastructure.
He also said he couldn’t see the project’s housing units becoming viable in the 3 to 4-year time frame, which was the predicted time to get the first units on line.
“My concern … is it’s the wrong place, in a high hazard coastal area, with no infrastructure,” McGrail said. “I don’t see this turning around in the 3 to 4 year window.”
Councilmember Marty McClain said he couldn’t understand why the city would walk away from the $340 million project, especially after the developer jumped through the multiple hoops set by council and the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“It may not work up there, but we don’t know that,” McClain said. “Every precaution is being put into play here, but we don’t want to give it a chance.”
Councilmember Bill Deile, who served on the dais when the project originally came before council, said he too was pleased Kerner and IAK Florida Builders were willing to jump through the hoops over the years, either from council or Planning and Zoning board.
He said, too, that supporting the developer, who was paying for the project in its entirety, should be supported.
“We’ve got to move forward, we can’t keep denying everything that comes before us,” Deile said.
Councilmember Derrick Donnell said he had difficulty denying the project due to the developer’s willingness to make all changes that was asked of him.
The housing market, however, made him feel that new condominium units would not be viable with the existing home inventory.
“I cannot see that happening in three to seven years,” Donnell said.