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Council passes new zoning for CRA

By Staff | Sep 12, 2012

A zoning change within the Cape’s downtown Community Redevelopment Agency borders is being touted as a bold move that will spur development.

The Cape Coral City Council on Monday unanimously passed an ordinance that turns the three existing zoning districts- Downtown Gateway, Downtown Edge and Downtown Core – into one district, the South Cape Downtown District.

In a companion ordinance, the city’s zoning map will be amended to show street designations.

“The rezoning of the map is going to designate what you can have. You can have 7-Elevens here, you can have residential there. It shows what you can build,” CRA chairman Rich Greer said.

The objective of the measure is to have the CRA district under one set of rules in hope of making it more attractive to developers.

The ordinance does not address the CRA property in the area of the former golf course, something that created confusion with one resident.

“How can we make it into recreational space when we don’t own it?” she asked of the 1,745 acres in and around the property.

City Attorney Dolores Menendez said that since the land is in litigation, she couldn’t comment.

CRA Executive Director John Jacobsen said he hopes to have an open-air mall downtown. Another item on the wish list is to do something with the Big John’s Shopping Center.

Greer said the whole idea was to have the three Ps: painless, predictable and profitable.

“I’m happy. Confident. It’s a simplification of the code, how to build and how it’s going to take place in the downtown area,” Greer said. “It’s a good start.”

Six months ago, the CRA faced the possibility of dissolution. City Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz made a motion to dissolve the CRA, only to change his mind when the CRA and the city council came to consensus.

“This has been a year in the works. We want to make sure we unravel the boa of constraint,” Councilmember Marty McClain said.

In other business, Take Pride in the Cape was presented with the State Spirit Award by Councilmember Lenny Nesta.

The group was started in 2009 to address blight. Since then, it has handled 920 homes and, as Nesta said, “has helped do the very best for Cape Coral.”

Also, the city received two awards from the Florida Recreation and Parks Association at a recent awards banquet.

Parks and Recreation Director Steve Pohlman and his department won awards for “Other Print Media” for its summer camp guide, and for the “Agency Excellence Award” for cities between 150,000 and 199,000 people, which was more all-encompassing.”

“We are pleased to win awards and pleased to provide services,” Pohlman said.