City Council creates nuisance complaint board
Saying the action would help protect residents by reducing illegal behavior, the Cape Coral City Council on Monday unanimously voted to create a nuisance abatement board that will conduct hearings, enforce fines and even place liens on properties.
Police Chief David Newlan gave a presentation to Council, saying such a board would provide a fair, quick method to reduce the use of businesses, residences and city property for illegal activities such as drugs, prostitution, theft and gang activity, especially in cases where there are repeat issues in residential and commercial areas.
Newlan said the board would help reduce crime because it would give law enforcement another tool by handing out fines or other actions, up to and including foreclosures to fight it.
The seven-member board to be appointed by Council will hear cases brought forth by the city attorney, giving due process to the accused, with the burden of proof lying with the city.
As per the ordinance approved, the board will be able to enter orders prohibiting the maintaining of a public nuisance, and will be able to close properties conducive to nuisances.
The board will be able to impose fines, recover costs, record orders and even foreclose a property subject to a lien. Total fines will not exceed $15,000.
Repeat visits to problem areas has been an issue for the CCPD, officials said. So far this year police have responded to 208 locations for criminal activity at least twice, 72 at least three times, and 36 locations four or more times.
Newlan said the board would protect renters, homeowners, landlords and business owners.
Also Monday, the city council approved an ordinance that changed the future land use of a property on Southwest 9th Street, off the corner of Skyline Boulevard, from Commercial Activity Center (CAC) to Single Family Residential (SF). A companion ordinance to rezone from Marketplace-Residential to single-Family Residential was also approved.
The property is sandwiched between two residential structures which were present when the future land use and zoning were redone in 2010.
In other business, council approved appointments to several city boards. Betty Dill, Linda Prince and Edmund Jackson were appointed to the Health Facilities Authority; Stephen Qua was appointed to the Municipal Fire Employees Pension Trust Fund Board of Trustees; Robert Keppler to Municipal Police Employees Pension Trust Fund Board of Trustees; and Harvey Wolfson was named to the Audit Committee.
The City Council also approved hardship deferrals of special and legacy assessments and for certain fees for 2018 for property owners who meet the criteria.
So far in the fiscal year 47 applications have been received, with 35 being approved at a total cost of more than $52,000.
The Council, which conducted its final full meeting before the General Election, also decided to hold one final special meeting at 3 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 20 to tie up any loose ends and allow the new council to come in with a clean slate.