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Seven Isles concepts subject of council workshop

By Staff | Apr 5, 2016

The Cape Coral City Council will gather in council chambers on Wednesday to view and consider the Northwest Cape vision plan and get an update on the Seven Islands concept plan.

The monthly workshop, or Committee of the Whole, meeting begins at 4:30 p.m.

City council will be briefed by consultant Javier Omana on what has happened so far, what is yet to come, and also will view the five concepts being considered, learn the costs associated with them and get opinions from the public, of which many are expected.

“We’re expecting many to attend and we want to make it convenient to make presentations and broadcast it at a higher quality for those watching at home or on their devices,” city spokesperson Connie Barron.

The issue has been contentious in the past..

Denis Catalano, president of the Northwest Neighborhood Association, said three of his board members will speak during public comment to represent the group.

“We’re going to split our comment up in three, three-minute segments rather than have a bunch of us say the same thing. That will cut down on a lot of people getting up,” Catalano said. “When the council hears the same thing over and over, they stop listening.”

Public participation for the project began in June and has included two town hall meetings, and a visioning charrette in between in November.

The second town hall on Feb. 17 which featured five visions of what Seven Islands could become was a raucous one, with more than 300 in attendance. Many came to protest what they perceived was a lack of public notice and the potential for high rise development.

“I don’t think they were fully aware of the process that had already taken place or the public input that had already been solicited,” Barron said. “I don’t think some of those people had been involved from the get go.”

Councilmember Marilyn Stout spoke to some NWNA members shortly after that meeting and said the group has been a wealth of information, which could greatly influence what plan she ultimately decides.

“I told them we were thinking about going to the Westin or the Sheridan to make a proposal for a resort,” Stout said. “It would be a great destination point and increase the property values. As long as it wasn’t high rise, I can’t see how the neighborhood would be against it.”

Stout said the NWNA members did not object, though she expects a discussion to arise about what constitutes a high rise.

Catalano said he hopes there’s no repeat of that, as his group and the city have worked well together.

Of the five concepts, the NWNA is in agreement with the first two, which feature mainly single-family homes and a maximum of four stories, with a mix of waterfront dining and parkland.

While the high rises are a non-starter for the Northwest Cape Coral Neighborhood Association, the organization understands the need to put something there, as long as it fits in with the neighborhood.

“The city bought those properties and it’s there’s for them to sell. We’ve been cooperative with the city and the consultants have done a reasonable job,” Catalano said. “We realize it can’t just be parks. We’re looking for a smart development that is compatible. Anything bigger than that, the waterway and road can’t support it.”

In addition to scheduling Wednesday’s workshop, the city has put a survey online to get further feedback from those inside and outside the city.

It’s been been very successful so far, Barron said.

The next step will be for city council to provide some sort of direction as to where the elected board might want to go with the concepts, as well as where the city goes from here.

Residents have had a huge say in that already, which Barron has been more than pleased with.

“It’s kind of exciting that we have all these concepts out there that the community is able to vote on and have a voice in deciding which direction the city will go,” Barron said.