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Council rejects Southeast 46th Street condo plan

By Staff | Apr 3, 2019

Near-by property owners came out Monday night to ask Cape Coral City Council to deny a proposed 10- to 13-unit multi-family complex slated for Southeast 46th Street.

A majority on the elected board heard their arguments with only two of the eight council members voting for the ordinance that would have changed the city’s land-use map on the site from single-family to multi-family.

Those opposed on council agreed that traffic on the street, as well as on the water, would be too intense for such a development on less than an acre of property, which residents also said would lower the values of the single-family homes nearby.

The residential dissenters held a “white-out” on the right side of the dais as both sides presented their cases.

Greg Stewart, representing the developer, said the city has said it is deficient in the number of multi-family units and that this project would help meet some of that need.

He also said that the development would not be typical, duplex block units, but rather upper-end condominiums in the $300,000 to $350,000 price range that would increase the city’s tax base as opposed to three single- family homes the property would otherwise hold.

Max Forgey, representing the residents said, though, the property has been zoned single-family since 1958, and people who bought homes in the area had an anticipation that it would remain so. He also said the area couldn’t handle the increased traffic, on land or in the Malaga Canal, which starts to narrow at that property.

Forgey’s key argument was that multi-family housing is appropriate on a collection of properties of three acres or more. This property was .88 acres.

City staff and the Local Planning Agency each recommended approval. However, once the residents provided input, with nearly all of them expressing opposition, the city council had a different opinion.

“We need growth, but it has to be smart growth. The neighbors had an expectation which is why they bought homes there,” Councilmember John Gunter said. “The positives don’t outweigh the negatives.”

“That’s a lot of houses in a little hole. It makes no sense,” Councilmember Rick Williams said.

Council member Marilyn Stout who, along with Jessica Cosden voted for the ordinance, said the biggest problem was the fear of the unknown.

“This would be a quality development. I understand the fear of the unknown, but it’s a great community and I believe you will be proud of what goes in there,” Stout said. “It’s logical because of the multi-family homes next door.”

Council then voted with 2-6 in favor, meaning the motion fails, which pleased residents.

“It’s the right decision considering the density issue along not only the street but the canal, which narrows at that point.” John Mhaka,

For the other side, it was a tough defeat.

“It’s frustrating that you had an independent staff review and the Local Planning Council that gave approval, and here we are and the city has lost out because of fear,” Stewart said. “You pack a house and people lose a sense of objectivity.”