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Planning commissioner resigns

By Staff | Jul 10, 2010

Walter Fluegel, a Cape Coral Planning and Zoning commissioner for seven years, resigned Wednesday amid a flurry of controversy.
In a scathing letter announcing his immediate resignation, Fluegel cited political “shenanigans” that he said left him “with no moral alternative but to resign.”
Fluegel said former P & Z Chairman Gene Wolfe accused him of taking kick backs for supporting the now defunct Sans Souci project proposed for northwest Cape Cape and he accused Councilmember and council liaison Chris Chulakes-Leetz, and new P & Z Chairwoman Elect Patti Martin of conspiring to seize control of the planning and zoning board, accusations all three deny.
In his resignation email dated July 7 and addressed to Mayor John Sullivan and city council, Fluegel cited a phone conversation he said he had with Chulakes-Leetz to back up his allegations and also cited the council member’s employment at the same office as Martin as a potential conflict of interest and “cronyism”
“The situation didn’t pass the smell test for me,” said Fluegel, who said he had demanded an apology from Wolfe on the “baseless and false allegation” that he had been “paid off” by the developer.
Gene Wolfe denied making any such statement and said Friday he stepped down as chairman because he has trouble with his hearing.
“I never said that, I never even inferred that,” Wolfe said. “All I said was that he was one hundred percent on their side, that’s all.”
Wolfe also refuted any conspiracy theories, saying he and Martin never violated any Sunshine Laws by speaking together about city business outside of a meeting.
Patti Martin said Fluegel will be missed due to his abrupt exit from the P & Z board and did not understand where the accusations originated.
“Over the years I have had a very high regard for Walter, but I do not know where he’s coming from with these accusations,” she said. “I don’t know what his accusations are.”
Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz dismissed Fluegel’s statements.
He said he had spoken to Fluegel after receiving the email resignation, but he had nothing on which to base his accusations.
“I can’t comment on fantasy. There’s nothing there,” Chulakes-Leetz said. “He doesn’t have anything other than fantasy allegations.”
For Fluegel, the inference of any impropriety in connection with his Sans Souci vote was a line in the sand.
“When serving on a board becomes a liability to your own integrity … I’m done,” he said.
Given the potential for conflicts of interest on P & Z and the current political situation in the city, Fluegel ended with a recommendation — that Cape Coral replace its volunteer board with a hired professional.
“Compromising the integrity of the land development process often results in many communities opting for a Hearing Examiner format,” Fluegel wrote. “I would suggest to you that you may be at that crossroad.”