Council approves land use change for Embers property
Despite protests from numerous residents, Cape Coral City Council on Monday unanimously agreed to transmit a future land use amendment that would allow multi-family development on acreage on Embers Parkway and Nelson Road
City staff told the elected board the Cape has long needed more multi-family housing, particularly in the northeast and southeast quadrants. As determined in a 2016 analysis, the city needs 1,500 units per year for five years to make up for the shortfall.
The goal is to provide quality housing, both single- and multi-family, to meet the needs of city residents, present and future, said Wyatt Daltry in his presentation to Council.
The 82.69-acre property in question was amended to single family in October and staff was basically trying to correct what it said was an error. The land had been considered multi-family by PDP in 2007 and a PDP was approved at the time before the housing market collapsed and because there were no utilities.
However, some neighbors are wary of the prospect new multi-family housing nearby. They said they chose to live among nature when they moved there and don’t want to wake up to see condos or three-story buildings when they look out the window.
Critics also claimed it would destroy market values on their homes and that they didn’t get any notice in the mail before the future land use change proposal was brought before Planning & Zoning last month.
“I’m not happy. They’re going to drop 1,300 units in the middle of a single-family residence,” said Beth Rivera. “We’ve invested our lives into these houses, I’m raising my children and grandchildren there and they’re going to drop this behind my house. With a 35-foot variance I’m going to be looking at concrete.”
Shelby Soley said while she is all for growth and hoped a new sub-division would be a nice one, she felt blindsided by the city, claiming officials gave residents little notice on the proposal.
“I don’t want two-story homes in my backyard. It’s not a proper area for them,” Soley said. “We don’t have the roads or the schools to accommodate 2,000 properties. A park would be a great place for mid-Cape.”
However, with the property privately owned, the city doesn’t want to face the possibility of a lawsuit, such as with the owners of the old golf course acreage.
“Our hands are tied. If we don’t do this, we could face a lawsuit. We don’t have a choice and we have no control over it,” Councilmember John Carioscia said. “It would cost the city money to fight it and I won’t risk the taxpayers’ money on it.”
That didn’t make those who came to protest the ordinance very happy.
“It’s not fair to the community, it’s not fair to anybody. It’s all about the mighty dollar. They are planning to build affordable apartments,” Rivera said. “The city doesn’t want to spend $10,000 to fight this, but my house that’s worth $300,000 now will be worth $150,000. What am I supposed to do?”
The proposed land use change will now be transmitted to the state for its review. If it is approved, it will then come back the City Council.