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Land use, zoning, back for discussion on Monday

By Staff | Feb 21, 2019

With all the controversy the proposed land use and zoning changes have created citywide, the Cape Coral City Council and city staff will discuss the methodologies and techniques used in developing the Land Development Code and Zoning Map on Monday.

“We’re going to look at the areas that are zoned multi-family and if they are in single-family areas, we don’t want to increase the density per acre. We want to leave that alone,” Mayor Joe Coviello said.

At the Feb. 4 city council meeting, residents of the “Four Corners” neighborhood in the area of Agualinda Boulevard and Beach Parkway flooded council chambers to complain about the possibility of there being as many as 510 multi-family units in that area before the city decided to downgrade the density to medium to low.

Council also pulled that area out of the master ordinance to be considered on it own,

Coviello said it gave the city something to think about, not just there, but citywide.

“There are other areas similar to that that also have the 16 acres per unit (RML), and we really don’t want to change that,” Coviello said. “But we have corridors like Pine Island Road, Del Prado, Cape Coral Parkway, Bimini Basin or the Seven Islands that may require more density. We may look at that differently.”

One of the concerns council will likely have is whether the city can handle higher density, especially on the major bridges and thoroughfares, where getting in and out of town during the morning and afternoon rush is a challenge.

Councilmember John Gunter said he is looking at where the city can add commercial, especially those areas that Coviello sees as being medium density housing.

“I want to see if commercial would be a better fit than multi-family in some of the main thoroughfares. I also want to see the changes from multi-family higher density to lower density,” Gunter said.

Gunter said two weeks ago that he would like to see the city reach 20 percent commercial as opposed to the 8 percent it is now to give residents an easier tax load.

Coviello said the needle has moved little, if at all, in regards to commercial and that with a new economic development director, he can hit the ground running.

That said, it probably won’t happen until the utility expansion projects are done, since business and industry isn’t too keen on areas where there is no infrastructure like sewer and water.

Councilmember John Carioscia. understands the need to put higher density multi-family on the main roads, as well as not abutting those higher densities with single-family homes, which wasn’t done the last time.

What bothers Carioscia was that city staff determined the best use of land, as opposed to impact on single-family residences, and how multi-family would impact schools, roads and the daily trip to work.

His question: Is the city here to appease contractors or to serve the residents?

“We should be more concerned about the impact of all this growth on our roads, schools and first responders. We have one hospital with 200,000 people. That’s ridiculous,” Carioscia said. “Now, we’re going to explode with multi-family units? I don’t think so.”

Carioscia said the city plans use to TIF money to bring in more business, and wondered why the city is incentivizing growth when it’s already happening.

“Remember when the county eliminated impact fees? You won’t get me to incentivize growth because it’s already there. If you want commercial growth, use the commercial growth numbers and land use,” Carioscia said. “I have a problem with putting 300 families somewhere where the schools can’t handle it. I don’t like it. And if people don’t like it, that’s too bad.”

The council meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.