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Venture Church expansion plans OK’d

By Staff | May 3, 2016

Venture Church on Del Prado Boulevard won unanimous approval for its expansion plans from City Council at Monday night’s meeting.

The church, located just south of Hancock Bridge Parkway, wants to construct an office building and a 550-seat worship building just north of the existing church building along with associated parking and landscaping extending east to Southeast 16th Place.

It was just one of three public hearings and open discussions on council’s agenda Monday.

Venture’s planned development project asked for rezoning of one parcel, deviations from the parking and landscaping regulations, and the city’s vacation of a mostly gravel and grass alley necessary to bring the multiple parcels together into one large parcel.

The landscaping deviation was recommended by staff since the developer proposed enhanced landscaping in lieu of building a buffer wall. One multi-family residence adjoining the church property objected to eliminating the wall because of noise and vehicle intrusion concerns.

A representative of developer Ensite Inc., said the church agreed to put up a vinyl buffer fence on three sides of the residence in addition to the landscaping.

Deviation from the parking regulations (195 spaces) were recommended with the church agreeing to provide bike racks for a minimum of eight bikes, thereby reducing the number of vehicles using the lot.

311 Call Center

Cape Coral Police informed council that it soon will begin phasing in a 311 Call Center operation to replace the Citizens Action Center in order to more efficiently address non-emergency calls the city receives from the public.

These type of calls include road repairs, streetlight and traffic light outages, code violations, animal services, general government information and neighborhood services.

According to Police Commander of Communication Kristie Van Houten, 311 Call Centers are used by cities across the country. There are three centers currently functioning in Florida in Miami Dade, Okaloosa and Orange counties. The three-digit number is much easier for residents to remember than a seven-digit phone number.

The cost associated with the Call Center would be about $118,000 for the first year, Van Houten said. It would be staffed by the three current call-takers with regular city staff members assigned for peak usage times when necessary. Over the next year the system will be evaluated and its operations modified before formally presented to council for Fiscal Year 2017.

CRA Advisory Board

A heated discussion broke out when it came time for council to appoint a new member to fill the vacant seat on the South Cape CRA Advisory Board. This, after a lengthy discussion took place last week during the Cape Coral CRA Commission when Regan St. Peter was selected to fill that role by a 5-3 vote to send the recommendation for council’s approval.

Councilmember Jim Burch ignited the discussion with remarks that it has been customary to move alternate board members up to fill voting board seats upon a vacancy.

“I won’t be supporting this because I think we did alternate (Peter) Davis a disservice since he has served the board well since being appointed as alternate,” Burch said. “I just think his resume and service are better.”

Burch further thought St. Peter’s role as managing entertainment for several of the district’s bars and restaurant events might be a conflict of interest.

Councilmember John Carioscia and Mayor Marni Sawicki both took issue with Burch’s comments.

“I know, for myself, I vote how I feel I should vote,” said Sawicki.

Carioscia shot back that Burch should not presume to know what was in his mind as to who or why he voted the way he did.

Councilmember Rana Erbrick supported Burch’s position that passing over Davis might send the wrong message to people and that it might become more difficult to attract people to serve as alternate board members.

In the end, council voted 6-2 to appoint St. Peter to the seat vacated by Ed Ramos, who resigned recently. Burch and Erbrick cast the dissenting votes while Councilmember Marilyn Stout changed her dissenting CRA vote to accept St. Peter on Monday.

Burch ultimately apologized, which was accepted, that any of his remarks offended anyone on council because they were not so intended.

Weekly LCEC updates

Assistant City Manager Mike Ilczyszyn informed council that he wanted to suspend weekly updates to council on LCEC issues, saying, “Some of it had turned into a little bit of a distraction.”

He said the city would delay further updates at least until after council’s summer hiatus. No council member objected.

Council is holding a special workshop meeting on Wednesday with the main topics for discussion being updates to the parks master plan and on changes to the Commercial Activity Center (CAC) land use classification.

Council’s next regular meeting is next Monday at 4:30 p.m. in City Hall.