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Council approves Future Land Use Map changes

By Staff | Apr 3, 2019

In February, dozens of residents throughout Cape Coral came to City Council to express outrage over the proposed Future Land Use Map city staff had created.

Two months later, there was little dissent.

Cape Coral City Council on Monday unanimously approved the ordinance to amend the land use of multiple parcels totaling 1,817 acres.

The council made a couple of changes regarding property on Old Burnt Store Road that will become single-family and some property on Trafalgar Parkway near Santa Barbara Boulevard, which will become multi-family.

The map will be retransmitted to the state and regional agencies for review.

The ordinance becomes effective 60 days after council adoption if there is no challenge.

In other business, the developers of the proposed $130 million Village Square, Downtown Village Square, LLC, requested an extension to July 22, so the city can bring forth an amendment to approve the PDP and also issue the building permits for Phase 1.

Council approved the extension unanimously, but it also expressed to the developers that members are beginning to run out of patience after this request, the seventh made since the project has been in the works since 2010.

To be fair, previous extensions were granted because of Hurricane Irma and the blue-green algae emergencies, which was out of the developer’s control. But with a project that has been in the works for nine years, the fact that there has been little progress gave council members some pause, wondering if they had adequate funding to do the project.

“This has dragged on for nine years. We need to have benchmarks in place and at least get to first base on this,” Councilmember John Gunter said, adding that he wanted to see the financials for the firm.

“We haven’t been giving extensions for three months, but for nine years. We can’t keep giving extensions,” Mayor Joe Coviello said. “If it doesn’t happen, I’m done.”

The developers said insurance didn’t reimburse them for damages done during Irma and added they have mortgaged their properties to further finance it. They said they have a $35 million line of credit for the first phase, which they said would be the most difficult. It would include a six-story building and a parking garage.

After that, they would mortgage what they have built on Village Square to build the rest which, when finished, will include more than 250,000 square feet of commercial/ office space and 152 residential units.

The land itself is considered blighted, with three structures, including a former bank and car wash, that are still standing.

Also in other business, City Manager John Szerlag and Coviello gave recognition to the Cape Coral Police Department for its enforcement of gas skimmer fraud in the city, which Szerlag said has been reduced to next to nothing since an ordinance was implemented last May to address the problem.

There were 22 skimmers found in Cape Coral gas pumps in 2017 and 2018. This year, there has been only one so far, Szerlag said.