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Council member: Gas pumps proposal at Skyline convenience store withdrawn

By Staff | Dec 5, 2012

The developer of a proposed gas station/convenience store on the corner of Cape Coral Parkway and Skyline Boulevard has decided to drop the gas component of the store.

According to Cape Coral Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz, Dan Creighton of Creighton Commercial Development of Cape Coral decided to build just the convenience store at intersection, a proposal that has drawn debate for a year.

Chulakes-Leetz hailed the developer’s decision.

“I think it’s a win-win situation for everyone,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday. “It appears we have a developer who cares, it appears we have city residents who care, and city staff and elected officials who care. “When there’s good communication and compromise, then everyone wins,” Chulakes-Leetz added. “We’re going to get a good business in town, and residents won’t have to worry about underground storage tanks in a neighborhood. It would appear that there’s not going to be any controversy.”

Creighton was not immediately available for comment.

The project passed Planning & Zoning 4-3 in September. However, citizens signed a petition within 30 days and won an appeal before city council.

That appeal is set to go before city council in January or February.

Some fear that despite the decision by Creighton, it still leaves open the possibility of gas pumps being installed, since the special exception was approved by the P&Z.

“We still have the special exception on the books. We still have to go through and get that reversed,” said Tom Kotarski, authorized representative for the Skyline Waterways neighborhood. “There were decisions made to allow a station and variances to allow the dimensions. We have established valid reasons why the decision is not in the best interest of Cape Coral.”

“I’m personally concerned that somewhere down the road, that theoretically it would happen,” said Patti Martin, who chairs the P&Z. “I understand the neighbors’ concern.”

Martin voted against the gas station component at the September meeting.

The land in question was rezoned from professional to CP1 in January by city council, overruling a decision by P&Z to not change it. Kotarski said his neighborhood won’t be satisfied until that area is rezoned back to professional.

Cape Coral Councilmember John Carioscia believes council should do what it did with the residents of Southest 15th Place two weeks ago and admit it erred and reverse itself on the zoning issue.

“Planning & Zoning got it right, and city council made a mistake,” Carioscia said. “This happens in cities, people, for the right reasons, do the wrong thing.”

Carioscia voted against the rezoning in January.

Those who petitioned against it said a gas station, which would stand on a .63 acre site on the northeast corner of that intersection, was too intense a use for the area, violated the city’s zoning standards, and its proximity to water could spoil the recreational water atmosphere Kotarski said is the reason many come to the Cape.

Carioscia simply believes there’s no need for a convenience store.

“We have a Wal-Mart six blocks away, a gas station on Chiquita and a Publix to the east. We don’t need a Seven-11,” Carioscia said.

Kotarski also said the convenience store would prove to be a hindrance to people looking to leave or enter the neighborhood, and also said it wasn’t the way Cape Coral was originally envisioned.

“The initial vision was as a waterfront wonderland. The city wants to replace it with a Seven-11 business model,” Kotarski said. “Our interest is to maintain the vision of Cape Coral.”