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Deadlocked vote stops land-use change for proposed multi-family development along Chiquita Boulevard

By Staff | Jul 19, 2016

Neighbors to a proposed multi-family development along Chiquita Boulevard south of Cape Coral Parkway went home happy after City Council rejected the land use change request at its meeting Monday night.

After a lengthy discussion that got heated at one point, a 4-4 deadlock vote denied the request by developer RTS of Cape Coral seeking to change 1.3 acres along Southwest 16th Place from single-family to multi-family residential. The property fronts on Chiquita at Southwest 51st Street where the developer proposed to construct a high-end condominium project.

Neighbors flocked to the podium to voice their objection to adding more multi-family units in an area that already shows deterioration from existing multi-family units. They cited fears of higher crime from the transient nature of multi-family units, negative property values and fears that after the land use change the subject property might be sold to another developer who might propose a different project.

Representatives for the developer pleaded that the change would allow the developer to use a full-block depth for a condo complex beneficial to the area and the city as a whole, which faces a shortage of multi-family units.

Councilmember Rana Erbrick backed the development, saying, “My job is to look out for the city as a whole and I think this presents an opportunity for full block development. It would be so easy to sit up here and say no, but this is supported by the land use plan.”

Councilmember John Carioscia maintained, “Who up here on council wants a duplex built across from them? I certainly do not. I don’t think it is good for the neighborhood. They all checked the zoning before they built and it’s wrong, it’s not fair to change the rules after people have invested.”

Similarly, Councilmember Jim Burch vehemently rejected the proposal and sided with Carioscia.

“I don’t like this. Our own P&Z did not like this several years ago and now they do,” Burch said. “All I ask is, please, keep your promise. It’s very simple. We’ve faced this before, many times.”

Councilmember Rick Williams added, “I’m disappointed there were a lot of insults thrown around tonight at us and at staff, but that’s no way to win a war. I like what Councilmember Burch said about keeping promises. It does not make sense for us to force it down your throats.”

Williams, Burch and Carioscia were joined by Councilmember Richard Leon in casting the dissenting votes upon which the ordinance amendment failed.

Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday at City Hall.