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Residents protest rezoning proposal

By Staff | Apr 26, 2013

A proposed rezoning of a property in a residential area in southwest Cape Coral has nearby homeowners raising concerns and voicing opposition.

Property owner Bella Vista Villa is asking that the parcel at 2811 S.W. 20th Ave. be rezoned from single-family residential to multi-family residential. The proposed change goes before the Cape Coral City Council for a vote Monday.

On April 3, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the proposed rezoning ordinance to the council.

The undeveloped tract is comprised of approximately 3.4 acres, with the surrounding area consisting of single-family residences and vacant lots.

It is bordered to the north by Southwest 28th Street, to the south by Southwest 28th Terrace and to the west by Southwest 20th Avenue. The property abuts four vacant lots to the east, official documents state.

Bella Vista is requesting the rezoning to multi-family to bring the property into compliance with its Future Land Use classification. Originally, the parcel was classified as single-family residential in the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

In 2008, a Future Land Use map amendment was approved and the tract’s classification was changed to multi-family residential. Multi-family allows for development of up to 54 dwelling units, with a building height up to 38 feet.

All of the properties surrounding the parcel have a Future Land Use of single-family residential and a zoning of single-family residential.

City staff reviewed the rezoning request and recommended approval. The recommendation is based on 10 general standards that were analyzed.

“It’s just a rezoning at this point,” Derek Burr, manager with the Planning Division, said Wednesday. “There are no development plans submitted.”

Multi-family permitted uses range from single-family and multi-family dwellings, conjoined residential structures and duplexes, to family day care homes, home occupations, places of worship and administrative offices.

There are also more than a dozen special exception uses for multi-family residential, including assisted living facility, bed and breakfast, child care and adult day care facilities, religious facility, and boarding or rooming houses.

Burr explained that if a submitted site plan requires a special exception for development, it must go before the Planning Zoning Commission for approval. If the commissioners deny the exception, an appeal can be made to council.

Plans that fall within the permitted uses do not require approval.

Gail Fields, of 1901 S.W. 28th St., is with a group of homeowners that has raised concerns about rezoning the property to multi-family residential.

“We don’t feel that we have the proper infrastructure here,” she said, adding that there are no sidewalks or bike paths on the bordering streets. “It’s extremely dangerous, and kids are walking out there all the time.”

Fields cited quality of life, property values, property rights and density development as other concerns of the neighborhood. Fields added that they heard Bella Vista may build condos or a 108-bed assisted living facility.

“Regardless, we know that it’s not a good thing for our home values,” she said. “We bought the homes knowing we were a single-family neighborhood.”

In its review, city staff noted that the compatibility between the uses of single-family and multi-family should help to ensure nearby property values. However, with no proposed site plan, predictions are “highly speculative.”

Staff also pointed out that any future development will require buffering, and that the rezoning would allow for multi-family uses and a small variety of non-residential uses that are integral parts of a “well-rounded community.”

Fields acknowledged that she and her neighbors understand that the city could generate new businesses and housing options with the rezoning.

“We don’t have a problem with that,” she said. “We appreciate what they’re trying to do by offering different buildings and condos and places to live.”

“We just don’t feel this is the appropriate place to put it,” Fields added. “They just need to provide adequate infrastructure first.”

As of Wednesday, about 100 people had signed a petition opposed to the rezoning, which will be presented to council on Monday. The group is asking that the tract even be reverted back to a single-family Future Land Use.

At the very least, they are asking that the council postpone Monday’s vote until a traffic capacity study of the bordering streets can be completed.

“I think that’s the No. 1 thing we’re asking for right now,” Fields said. “I doubt any one of them came and looked at the street situation.”

Also on Monday, the council will vote on an amendment to Cape Christian Fellowship’s planned development project, including a special exception that allows for a religious facility in an area zoned as single-family residential.

The church needs the exception to build a children’s recreation area, food services building and covered pavilions. It has since removed a controversial sound stage from its future development plans, known as Fellowship Park.