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Cape eyes changes to land use regulations

By Staff | Jun 3, 2016

Cape Coral City Council got an update Wednesday on two key components of a planned revamp of the city’s land use development regulations as well as the latest on Commercial Activity Center land use.

Vince Cautero, the city’s community development director, told the elected board that there would be a lot to digest during the workshop presentation, as the LUDR is undergoing a dramatic overhaul that started last year.

Wednesday’s topic was land assembly, redevelopment and repurpose, and focused on two specific land uses.

The presentation focused on NC2 (two-story neighborhood commercial) and NC5 (five-story neighborhood commercial), which would create opportunities for development and land aggregation, according to Richard Cannone, of Calvin, Giordano & Associates, the consultants involved in the project.

Many of the NC2 parcels are south of Pine Island Road and run in a north/south direction. Del Prado and Santa Barbara boulevards are examples.

NC5s would create evenly distributed development centers throughout the city, with the “spine” of development on Pine Island Road because of the large parcels, Cannone said.

An example of such development was shown on Diplomat Parkway, where several NC5 and NC2-zoned properties could be clustered together to create a residential/ commercial node.

The city would have to vacate roadway, but would require that an equivalent area of open space is provided. The result would be connected, high-quality development and architecture and diverse pedestrian urban streetscapes.

NC5 land use would also create non-primary street frontages to be designed as “social streets” and centralized publicly accessible green open spaces for use and events, as well as plaza environments, Cannone said.

Residentially, NC5 would have residential components with landscape buffers and vegetated streets, frontages would be landscaped, and create a walkable pedestrian experience.

NC2 districts can satisfy commercial needs within a five-minute walk distance. The rest of the city would be called “walkability deserts,” where a car would be necessary as it would require a 20-minute walking distance to reach a social or commercial base, Cannone said.

Cautero said it’s too early to discuss how many of these potential districts would be built, but their possibilities could be seen sooner rather than later.

“We might be closer than we think, especially if we promote land assemblage, I think we can,” Cautero said.

Wyatt Daltry, planning team coordinator, gave a presentation on the CAC land use changes update which would provide for residential flexibility in the future land use map for properties detached from commercial potential, while minimizing the potential loss of mixed use and commercial development.

Daltry said certain blocks were amended to CAC between 2004-2010, which had a large amount of residences. The change to CAC removed the potential to build new residences, both single-family and multi-family. In some instances, some undeveloped properties were located between pre-existing duplexes and multi-family residences, making it difficult for those properties to develop.

Proposed language will allow for “detached properties.” The development of duplex and multi-family residential uses in the CAC would be permitted for properties that are detached from commercial opportunities and surrounded by developed residences.

Criteria could include roadway frontage, property size, development characteristics and difficulty of obtaining appropriate commercial size/ depth.

Additional language looks to remove certain restrictions based on type of development and size of property, Daltry said. The changes would result in an overhaul of the CAC, which has not been embraced by the development community.

“Council was concerned that land applicants came and weren’t able to develop and wanted to make it easier to develop the multi-family mix,” Cautero said. “The regulations are very difficult and that’s what we’re trying to tackle.”

Councilmember Rick Williams asked questions, wanting to make sure the new LUDRs are done right.

“This is a huge project and there’s going to be a lot of follow-up. It’s great to say here’s what we want to do, but we have 124 square miles to implement it on,” Williams said. “We have a lot of residents spread out all over the city that will be impacted.”

“We wanted to give an overall overview where we were headed. Right now there are so many commercial districts in the city that it can be overwhelming,” Cannone said. “This will simplify it and regulate it by height to differentiate them.”

The draft land development code is expected to be completed by September, with two public hearings and map changes presented to the Planning & Zoning Commission, with revisions if necessary in October or November.

The ordinance would get its first reading, with City Council approval of the Land Development Code and revisions in November or December. Adoption of the code by city council could come just before or after the New Year.