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Property owners: Street zoning change creates problem for residents

By Staff | Apr 24, 2012

Residents from Southwest 15th Place came to the Monday city council meeting at city hall wanting answers after two residents filed a petition for the elected board to address a zoning discrepancy that could change the face of the neighborhood.

The hour-long discussion ended with one Cape Coral council member admonishing a city agency for shoddy work and a promise that the controversy would be rectified.

In the end, the council voted 7-1 to approve the motion to direct council to direct the city manager to take steps necessary to change land use.

Southwest 15th Place residents Don Parsons and Ann Arnott filed the petition, asking council to change the land use back from commercial to residential after the Department of Community Development proposed zoning changes to commercial on that street.

In 2010, land use of the properties was changed from residential to commercial, even though 60 percent of the land in question is built up residential.

The problem was the residents weren’t notified, according to Parsons. The following year, the land was zoned commercial to match the land use, which is required by law.

Residents at the Aug. 22, 2011 city council meeting let their voices be heard, with nine opposing the ordinance, and the council voted to postpone the final vote to Nov. 14.

At the meeting, the newly-elected council voted unanimously to pass an amended ordinance which excluded:

Lots 1 through 65 in Block 4820

Lots 1 through 67 in Block 4817

Lots 43 through 64 in Block 4415

Lots 36 through 63 in Block 4346

Lots 1 through 66 in Block 4347.

Upon further review, some on council thought it might have jumped the gun on passing Ordinance 37-11.

“I thought this was settled Nov. 14. If we need an ordinance for land use to match zoning, I’ll vote on this,” Council member Kevin McGrail said.

“I supported this in November and I regret it,” council member Rana Erbrick said. “We need to go to staff on this.”

City staff presented its side of the story as to why the ordinance was brought up in the first place, including Cape’s history as a “pre-platted city,” but got a nasty rebuke from Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz.

“I’m insulted by the final statement by staff. You don’t run the city, you work for us,” Leetz said.

Parsons said city staff did little in the way of communication with residents.

“Council instructed the DCD to get with the neighbors to see what would be acceptable. The DCD said they didn’t need to get with us. At the Nov. 14 meeting, they didn’t bring a map,” Parsons said.

Members of city staff were not available to comment after the meeting.

Mayor John Sullivan echoed Leetz’s comments.

“Choosing a lot here or a lot there, that’s spot zoning. Let’s get everything changed prior to the time we pass an ordinance,” Sullivan said. “This was done dirty. People here were green and it shouldn’t have been voted on.”

Council then voted on the motion, to the happiness of Southwest 15th Place residents.

“We planned to retire in the house we’re in, but we couldn’t sell now because the house is in limbo,’ said Bob Eddy. “Some here are hell-bent on destroying property values.