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Gas station resolution continued to next month

By Staff | Aug 1, 2012

The decision on a controversial gas station/ convenience store on Cape Coral Parkway will have to wait a little longer. That didn’t mean residents wouldn’t get their say.

The Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday continued the project to Sept. 5 after the applicant, buyer and neighborhood association members were not present to testify at the 9 a.m. meeting.

“I’m prepared. I don’t know why they aren’t,” committee member Max Forgey said.

Seven residents, all of whom are opposed to the project, showed consternation over the possibility of not being heard, a feeling the commission noted.

In the end, resident Tom Kotowski was allowed to speak in a special public hearing session as a representative of the neighbors.

Kotowski said the store would create more traffic, hurt the environment, attract crime and send already depressed property values lower.

“Retirees went through the trauma of lower property values, now they have to go through the trauma of this,” Kotowski said during a lengthy speech. “The station would be 200 to 400 feet from four aquifers. It’s an environmental risk.”

When Chairperson Patti Martin asked the group if they supported or opposed the gas station, all raised their hands.

Afterward, Kotowski took issue with the fact those expected to testify were not present.

“I’d hate to call it a tactic, there are three people who are here today who won’t be able to make it next time,” Kotowski said. “This is draining to a lot of people to be delayed like this.”

The proposed gas station at 801-809 Cape Coral Parkway, on the corner of Skyline Boulevard, has been a hot topic for a while. The City Council approved rezoning of the parcel by a 6-2 vote in January, but objected to the proposed use as a convenience store.

In other business, after a lengthy discussion, the board unanimously approved the request for a Ball model home on 3003-3011 Chiquita Blvd. on the corner of Gleason Parkway, in a building that had already been built in 2003.

For a model home set to be constructed on 2549 Chiquita Blvd., the board voted 5-2 to approve it, with Dan Read and Chairperson Patti Martin in opposition.

The point of contention for some was the idea that future use of Chiquita Boulevard will be for business purposes, even though there’s little commercial activity now and several homes currently exist on that road.

“There’s no commercial action now and there’s none expected for five years,” Read said. “You had better plan on converting it after that.”

However, some agreed that, since the building has been a model home since it was built, the fact it had to be brought up again was pointless.

“Model homes show that business is good. This has been approved twice already,” Forgey said. “I feel bad for the applicant for going through this.”

The model home on 3003-3011 Chiquita Blvd. has two driveways and 11 parking spaces. To convert the property to commercial would cost between $45,000 and $75,000, or just $10,000 to tear the building down, since it cannot be used as a residence, according to a Ball Model Home representative.