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Development plans in for Savona Pkwy. multi-family

By Staff | Mar 14, 2019

Plans for a proposed multi-family development project on Savona Parkway are going through the final stages with some nearby property owners wondering about community input.

But unlike the proposed Four Corners “upzoning” and other development projects that have been put on hold due to resident protests, this project is consistent with its zoning requirements and so does not require public hearings.

The city is in receipt of development plans for a multi-family project with 319 units at 1730 and 1822 Savona Parkway.

The proposed project will be built on 19.96 acres of private property that has been identified for low- to medium- multi-family development site since at least 1981, when the city adopted a housing element of its comprehensive plan.

“By right, 16 units per acre is permitted. The plans they submitted have 319 units. It’s all under administrative approval, there’s no notice to neighbors or hearings,” said Robert Pederson, Cape Coral’s planning manager.

The current Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Classification is for multi-family development, which was established in 2002. The current R-3 zoning has been in place since 2003. Before that, multi-family development was allowed through the Planned Development Project process.

The prior comprehensive plan and zoning designations for this property also allowed multi-family development through a PDP approval process. Under current R-3 zoning, the site may contain up to 319 multi-family dwelling units, or 16 units per acre.

As designed and submitted, the complex will have 127 one-bedroom, 160 two-bedroom and 32 three-bedroom units, Pederson said. The anticipated rental prices will be between $1,000 and $1,600 per month.

Amy Yeardsley, housing coordinator, said the development is expected to be a market-rate complex, not affordable housing.

“We have an established need for multi-family housing on a larger scale and this goes toward meeting that need,” Yeardsley said during an affordable housing symposium in Fort Myers on Wednesday.

Yeardsley added that multi-family developments and the variety it creates help prevent the possibility of single-family homes becoming, essentially, multi-family, since groups of people aren’t renting homes.

“We’re looking to have a diversity in housing, and when you have large-scale multi-family, it pushes down the rents on single-family and stops a single-family intrusion. You see four or five people moving into a single-family home because that’s what it takes to afford it.”

The site is to be zoned Residential Multi-Family Low (RML), which allows up to 16 dwelling units per acre, the same density as the current zoning.

City Councilmember John Gunter said he has no problem with the new development going in, since it has been zoned as such for decades.

“By right, they have the right to move forward like any other developer. As a city, we can’t take something away from a particular owner because we may not like it,” Gunter said. “If it’s been zoned that way for many years, I have no problem with it. It’s what the developer can do.”

Roer Development, based in North Dakota, bought the property six months ago and first requested a variance to increase the height of the development several feet above the maximum 38 feet allowed, with the height measured to the eave line, not the top of the roof.

“People were concerned and confused because they thought it would allow more density, which was not true,” Pederson said.

The variance request was withdrawn to avoid having to go back to the hearing process, as city staff had recommended it be denied.

Roer resubmitted essentially the original site plan and lowered the interior ceiling height.

Zoning approved it March 7.

Pederson said it’s only a matter of resolving technical issues that may arise, if any, before the permit gets issued.

“When a project is at this stage it’s just minor technical or engineering details that need to be clarified before construction,” Pederson said.

Roer Development’s offices were closed Thursday due to a snowstorm and no one was available for comment.