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Modular homes again hot topic for council

By Staff | Jan 27, 2016

JIM LINETTE A modular home is under construction on Embers Parkway near Old Burnt Store Road. Residents took their concerns about modular homes in their neighborhood to City Council on Monday night.

Modular homes became the hot topic before City Council again Monday night in council chambers. Though not an item on the agenda, the discussion began during the public comment portion of the meeting.

A number of residents in Northwest Cape Coral, many wearing red shirts to represent their disapproval of modular homes, spoke before council consuming the entire 45 minutes allotted.

Residents are concerned that two modular homes, one on Kismet Parkway and one on Embers Parkway, do not measure up in appearance or blend in with other homes in the area. The fear is property values will be negatively impacted.

The owner of a $400,000 home near one of the modular homes was reported to be selling his property as a result of the modular home’s proximity. Some at the podium suggested the city form an architectural review committee to create standards for developers to follow.

“The CCCIA is strongly against an architectural review panel,” said CCCIA Executive Director Bill Johnson. “We feel it will hinder growth and we don’t want to see growth stopped by this process.”

“An architectural review board has been done in the past and it was a disaster,” said Council for Progress President Brian Rist. “It would make construction take longer and make it more difficult to build in Cape Coral.”

Council pointed out after everyone voiced their concerns that architectural or aesthetics regulations would apply to all homes constructed in the city, not just modular homes. Modular homes are required to follow the same state and local codes and regulations as site-built homes. State statutes prohibit cities from banning their construction.

“I’m waiting for a modular home to be finished so I can look at it, but they are still under construction,” said Councilmember Rick Williams. “I’m not happy with the home on Kismet as many of you are. I talked with the Building Department and they are not happy with it either. It doesn’t look anything like we thought it would.”

City building official Paul Dickson updated council and the sea of red shirts on discussions he has had with the modular home developer.

“I met with the builder and developer of the home on Kismet and they have agreed to make modifications in the coming weeks,” said Dickson. “The home on Embers and all future modular homes will have stucco, or stone face if requested by the homeowner, and garages will be attached. Modular homes in Florida all follow building codes the same as site-built homes and they are not assessed any differently by the tax assessor’s office.”

He added that he would not issue the homes a certificate of occupancy (CO) until the builder makes the modifications.

“I don’t have any grief with modular homes,” said Williams. “The problem is with the look of them.”

City staff will continue to monitor the progress and explore its options regarding modular home construction in the city.