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Entrada, sustainability projects on Council’s workshop agenda

By Staff | Nov 17, 2012

A community development district that was created during Cape Coral’s boom days may be dissolved without a single nail being driven.

Meanwhile, the city manager is looking for direction from the city council to move ahead with his request to hire consultants to find ways to diversify revenue and ways to improve permitting, planning and zoning and the like.

Those will be the two main subjects the city council will discuss at its workshop meeting Monday afternoon at City Hall.

An ordinance will be introduced which would repeal the Entrada community development district, which was created in 2006 when Cape Coral was experiencing its economic heyday.

Entrada, located on Del Prado Boulevard near the gateway to the city near U.S. 41, had nearly 700 acres of commercial, multi-family and single-family units planned.

Entrada became inactive in July after the Department of Economic opportunity was notified that Entrada had seen no activity in two years.

The city is therefore required to make an ordinance to repeal the original ordinance (105-06) that created the district.

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz said since Entrada is still essentially a blank canvas and that this would presumably make the property more attractive, with the prior restrictions being lifted.

“This makes it more marketable in the current environment,” Leetz said. “We’re taking all the obligations and agreements off of it.”

William Rozzetta, registered agent for Entrada, Realmark, the developer, and city staff were unavailable for comment Friday.

Meanwhile, city manager John Szerlag has invited representatives from two consulting firms to talk to council about financial diversification and the city’s development and permit process.

Michael Burton of Burton & Associates will discuss financial diversification scenarios designed to achieve financial sustainability over a 10-year period and the ramifications if nothing is done, such as loss of services.

Paul Zucker of Zucker Systems will evaluate the city’s permitting and development practices, which will include rezoning, special exceptions, planned development projects and site plan approval, among other things.

“We’re basically going to ask council for direction with these two projects. We haven’t done an analysis because it hasn’t been approved,” said Connie Barron, city spokesperson. “This is to provide information to council so they can make an informed decision.”

Barron said the consultants will run the city about $50,000, which means Szerlag is not required to go through council to hire them. But she also said such a plan is not contemplated.

Councilmember Rana Erbrick said it will certainly pay just to listen.

“We’ve been told time and again that we need to look at permitting to make things easier,” Erbrick said. “We need to know our options for revenue diversification and decide whether to implement them.”

Chulakes-Leetz agreed with the need to listen, but with caution.

“We need to walk gently because we’re in a financially precarious situation and this is just one piece of the puzzle,” Chulakes-Leetz said. “The city manager is doing this, yet he says we must have pension reform or the city will go bankrupt.

Also up for discussion will be the 2013 city council meeting schedule.

Council meets at 4:30 p.m. in its chambers at City Hall on Cultural Park Boulevard.