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Cape eyes moratorium on medical marijuana dispensories

By Staff | May 18, 2017

A possible moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and how the city can best address the small house craze will be among the topics discussed by the Cape Coral City Council at its workshop Monday.

Also among the major items to be discussed at the 4:30 p.m. meeting will be the five-year citywide road repaving plan from FY 2017 to FY 2021.

Medical marijuana was approved by 71 percent of the voters statewide in a referendum last year.

The city is considering issuing a moratorium on dispensaries since the state has yet to pass an implementation plan on exactly how these dispensaries would operate. The city will discuss if it wants to adopt a moratorium, for what length of time, and when it should take effect.

There are concerns regarding how implementation of the voter mandate will impact the community, law enforcement, zoning and the number of dispensaries to be allowed, and how the state rule makers will address the issue.

City Councilmember Richard Leon said the city and big government needs to get out of the way and respect the will of the people.

“If staff isn’t working now to develop policies, that’s a failure on their part. We need to work with the state to figure it out and get it implemented as soon as possible,” Leon said. “This shows politics at its worst.”

Councilmember Rick Williams supports medical marijuana but says he still needs more information.

“I don’t know how I would vote. I’d have to hear what the police have to say and get a feel of the people when we finally bring it up,” Williams said.

As for “tiny houses,” which most people have seen on TV and which have gained in popularity, Council will open discussion on whether these are a fit for the city.

The city has to determine if these homes comply with the Florida Building Code, as construction methods are often unknown. The minimum to meet all requirements is about 610 square feet, with between 750 and 850 square feet more desirable.

City land use regulations require garages for all dwellings and a minimum 1,100 square feet of living space.

Among the benefits of the smaller structures is their popularity and the fact they can provide for affordable housing. Concerns are they can impact housing values negatively and afford little or no room for storage.

“It’s a different option. We’re getting away from big homes but there aren’t enough condos or apartments,” Leon said. “The opportunity is there and people are getting into it all over the country. There are some real nice homes.”

“I have no problem with them, but they would have to be in a separate area, not with regular houses,” Williams said. “We don’t allow mobile homes, so anything would have to be an exception. It’s good workforce housing, but I expect here will be some pushback.”

The city has made road repaving a major priority, since many city streets were allowed to sit and deteriorate during the recession. Since 2012, the city has repaved 480 of the city’s 3,044 lane miles of roads, including more than one quarter of the city’s 572 miles of major roads, the biggest priority.

Residential streets with all utilities and high population are next, with more rural residential streets the lowest on the priority totem pole, though those roads most needed are moved up the list.

Roads off Palaco Grande Parkway were moved from 2019 to 2018 because the city’s utility department expects to complete the galvanized pipe replacement project.

Also, roads between Pelican Boulevard and Lotus Canal between Gleason Parkway and Southwest 47th Terrace were moved to this budget cycle to unify the age of all paving within the area.

On the other hand, roads on the west side of Del Prado from Southeast 17th Street to Southeast 22th Street were moved from 2020 to 2022 because the city needs to replace waterlines in the area.

The next two fiscal years see nearly 60 miles of roads being repaved each year, with slightly lower numbers in the following two years. The 2017 budget had 98 miles of road paving proposed as the city played catch-up from the previous years.

The North 1 and North 2 UEP projects were not included in those figures.

City Hall is at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.