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City to take over permitting again for seawalls

By Staff | Feb 26, 2013

After five months of watching construction along the waters of Cape Coral grind to a virtual halt, city council unanimously passed a resolution to approve an agreement between the city and the Army Corp of Engineers to authorize the city to administer related permits.

The new order does not grant the city all of the authority of the previous agreement, but officials say it will be better than the months-long waits the alternative – having the Corps issue the permits – would have brought.

“It equates to one-stop shopping for some permit action types. We have a close working relationship with Cape Coral and we appreciate all their efforts,” said ACE area chief Tunis McIlwain of the Corps’ permit SAJ-91, which the city will now administer.

The main difference in this agreement is the 10-day coordination period with Marine and Fisheries. If it meets the conditions of the permit, the city would send an e-mail to them, McIlwain said. If they don’t hear back within the 10 days, the permit can go through.

The city, along with area contractors, were stunned in October when the Corps allowed SAJ-91 to expire. The Corps took over the permitting process, grinding construction to a halt after years of getting permits for construction of seawalls, sometimes on the same day, officials said.

The process change resulted from the establishment of smalltooth sawfish critical habitat in the area.

At Monday’s meeting at City Hall, numerous contractors and advocates for them took to the podium to thank city staff and the Corps for the hard work they did to bring back the agreement and get people back to work.

“The rug was pulled from under us in October. You were proactive on the issue,” Heather Mazurkewicz, a building industry spokesperson, said. “To deal with a federal agency this quickly, you should be proud.”

It took the council no time to pass the measure once it came up for a vote.

“This gives the community, the city and any resident five years of steady permitting,” said city Business Manager Mike Ilczyszyn. “It allows the saltwater homeowner to know what they can and can’t do.”

In other business, the city council also unanimously approved a fire fleet coordinator position to oversee the fire department’s trucks and engines.

The position will pay between $43,000 and $68,000 annually and requires a minimum of five years experience in troubleshooting, maintenance and repair of fire vehicles.

The city council also voted to deny an appeal regarding a limit on the number of boat canopies in a single-family residential zone.

The vote sided with a decision of the Board of Zoning Adjustment and Appeals that denied a resolution asking for a deviation from the limitation that no more than one boat canopy shall be allowed for a single-family residence.

Council weighed in with the board to limit the number of canopies to one.

The vote went 6-2, with Mayor John Sullivan and Lenny Nesta casting the no votes.