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CRA, solid waste votes on Cape council agenda

By Staff | Sep 8, 2012

A trio of items that have been discussed for nearly a month will receive their final hearings and votes during Monday’s regular city council meeting at City Hall.

Two items involve the Community Redevelopment Agency, while the other will set the final assessment for the pick up and disposal of solid waste.

The CRA ordinances involve the repeal of the three existing downtown zoning districts into a single district, with landscaping regulations being moved into city regulations.

A second ordinance would amend the zoning map that is currently zoned Downtown Gateway, Downtown Edge and Downtown Core into a newly created South Cape Downtown District.

The purpose of the single district, according to the ordinance, would be to “promote and enhance the traditional commercial center” of the city as an area of “development, redevelopment and economic growth and to create a destination for residents and visitors to serve the area.”

It also would remove a lot of the red tape involved in putting projects into motion.

“It will provide flexibility to the redevelopment codes,” said Scott Hertz, CRA project manager. “It will also allow for development of lots and buildings in the area.”

It has been a year of challenges for the CRA. In March, Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz considered dissolving the CRA before more constructive dialogue led to him withdrawing the motion.

The rezoning has been a long process, Hertz said. But it has received almost universal support, with no negative comments when presented to the Planning & Zoning Commission over the summer.

“That almost never happens,” Hertz said.

One who doesn’t see the benefit is Chulakes-Leetz, who said it’s not a negative thing but, with CRA focusing on Big John’s Plaza, there may not be much benefit for anyone else.

“I see money spent where there’s no longer a CRA focus, including Area 12 in District 4, my district,” Chulakes-Leetz said. “It won’t accomplish much.

CRA chairman Rich Greer disagrees, saying that with all of downtown being under one set of Land Use Development Regulations, it will fuel a developmental surge.

“We developed this because things we’re clarified. You need to know what’s laid out or you won’t go there,” Greer said. “It’s about communication, and that’s been a major contributor to this.”

The ordinance involving solid waste has been a little more controversial, with Chulakes-Leetz leading the charge against the ordinance, which he is sponsoring.

Chulakes-Leetz claims that since recycling has more than doubled in recent years, the money collected should go back to the taxpayers in the form of much lower assessments instead of the $4.10 reduction proposed.

“Staff has been unable to hear the message over the last two years that the benefit of recycling money can be used to reduce waste assessments,” Chulakes-Leetz said. “I’m going to vote against this.”

Councilmember Rana Erbrick called the recycling money an example of revenue diversification City Manager John Szerlag has mentioned in budget talks.

“That money goes toward keeping our millage down and offsets costs to the city,” Erbrick said. “If you want to hand $850,000 a year back to the customers, we will need to make adjustments next year.”

As sponsor – which he got because of the rotational ordinance plan the city uses – parliamentary procedures prevent Chulakes-Leetz from speaking at Monday’s meeting against it, though he may vote against it, he said.

The annual assessment will be dropped from $161.35 in 2012 to $157.25 for each dwelling unit starting Oct. 1.