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Land use designation set for Bimini Basin area

By Staff | Aug 2, 2016

After a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of changing land use designations in the Bimini Basin area, City Council voted 6-2 on Monday to approve the changes.

Staff agreed to remove one block located west of Palm Tree Boulevard along Cape Coral Parkway as suggested by some on council at the last public hearing, but the approval included multifamily parcels north of Southeast 47th Terrace and Southeast 47th Street from Palm Tree on both sides of the Rubicon Canal to Coronado Parkway.

Current land uses for multifamily, commercial/professional, single-family and parks and recreation are now changed to downtown mixed uses that staff believes will attract developers to propose “game changing” projects that will make the basin a destination.

One sticking point for several council members was whether or not existing multifamily properties would be able to rebuild if they suffer more than 50 percent destruction. City Department of Economic Development Director Vince Cautero told members he could make that argument since multifamily is one of the uses allowed in the downtown mixed designation and rebuilt by the same owner, but council wants more assurance from Cautero.

Concerns raised by the public at the podium included noise abatement if restaurants and bars are located along the basin, protecting the property of people already living in the area from change, protecting property values, the credibility of landowners and developers.

“This is my district. I have lived here for 25 years,” said Councilmember Jim Burch. “This has to get done. I’m prepared right now as long as all the promises are kept. We can’t forget about the people who live there now. I am not a no growth person, but a slow growth person.”

Councilmember Richard Leon, who voted against the land use amendment along with Councilmember Rana Erbrick, said he was not comfortable and has always been concerned about protecting the single- and multifamily residences on the north side of Southeast 47th Terrace.

“This opportunity is too great to let it go,” said Leon. “I’d like to see more of a buffer for those residences. I want to see the development spread to the east, as it should. The market will dictate that.”

“Any time you have growth, somebody is going to be affected,” said Councilmember Rick Williams. “We just have to mitigate that as best we can.”

Cautero requested a postponement of the zoning district hearings related to the basin that were scheduled for later this month. Instead he asked for the delay in order to hire a consultant to work with city staff to focus on the zoning concerns expressed by council and others.

“We want more time to work out those concerns, non-conforming issues and delve into the infrastructure costs and transportation impact,” said Cautero, who added it wold take a month or more to hire the consultant and a couple more months before bringing the zoning districts recommendations to council.

Busy days ahead for council

Council members have a busy 10 days ahead of them with three special workshop meetings around the next regular council meeting next Monday. Members meet at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Nicholas Annex building to discuss revised versions of the Seven Islands and Parks Master Plan visions.

Two joint workshop meetings are scheduled next week between council and the Budget Review Committee. They meet at 1 p.m. next Tuesday and again on Thursday, both at the Nicholas Annex building.