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City’s Future Land Use map amended with Downtown Mixed use classification

By Staff | May 3, 2016

City Council laid the groundwork for future development associated with the Bimini Basin Project on Monday night by amending the city’s Future Land Use map to a Downtown Mixed use classification.

The unanimous approval of the ordinance authorizes staff to transmit the amendment request to the state within the next 10 days. The state will have 30 days to review the request and make recommendations, if any.

“With the area being more than 20 acres, it must go to the state for recommendations, but they rarely make any and we expect none,” said Community Development Director Vince Cautero. “Once we hear back from the state, the city will have 180 days to act or make changes, so theoretically we could hold onto this until December.”

Mayor Marni Sawicki pointed to Fort Myers Beach as an example of why it is important for Cape Coral to take this preliminary step.

“Developers on Fort Myers Beach bought up property and then found out they couldn’t go forward with their project plans,” Sawicki said. “This sets the table for when a developer comes in with an idea. With this they will know the parameters of what they can do.”

The land use classification change affects 126 parcels along and north of Cape Coral Parkway from Coronado Parkway west to Palm Tree Boulevard, an area of approximately 52 acres. The area includes use classifications for single- and multi-family residential, commercial/professional and parks. All of those uses are permitted with the Downtown Mixed use classification.

“This is a land use amendment not a zoning amendment,” added Cautero. “Zoning comes later as developers bring proposals forward.”

Some residents during the public hearing expressed concerns about noise associated with bars and restaurants filtering across the water and impacting residences on the south shore of the basin. Others wanted to know where drawbridges will go, connecting the Rubican Canal to the Bimini as well as infrastructure concerns.

“Downtown Mixed use discourages duplexes and single family, but not residential as a whole,” said Cautero. “This sets the tone for larger scale development for the long term.”

Staff indicated that noise issues would be addressed on a case-by-case basis as development ideas are brought forward.

Sawicki added, “There is no plan to use imminent domain here, whatsoever. This is why I’ve asked staff to use a PR firm to address these fears and inform the public. We just can’t seem to get the message out there. It’s just so frustrating because we don’t know exactly what is going there until developers bring us ideas. We are not being proactive enough with the public and telling this story.”

Councilmember Richard Leon assured the public that there will be many more public meetings on this project because it is such a long-range project.