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Annexation opponents ask Cape Council to postpone hearing

By Staff | Dec 6, 2019

A Matlacha resident instrumental in the challenge of Cape Coral’s efforts to annex six lots the city owns at the entrance of the island last go around is asking the city to postpone Monday’s annexation hearing saying the municipality’s second attempt again fails to meet legal requirements, but on different grounds.

The Matlacha Civic Association and the nearby Cape residents who challenged the annexation ordinance passed in 2016 which was subsequently overturned were not given proper notice of Monday’s hearing, were not given an opportunity to review the reports Cape Coral City Council will consider in support of the annexation, nor have they been given time to either gather witnesses or prepare for the cross-examination of those the city might choose to call, Michael Hannon said in a letter addressed to the mayor and city attorney dated Friday.

“There is no time in which we are able to review the reports supporting annexation, retain our own experts, and prepare witnesses for testimony before the City Council. In addition, as The Honorable Keith R. Kyle ruled in his September 10, 2019, ‘Final Order Granting Petition for Writ of Certiorari,’ testimony must be received under oath and subject to cross-examination in order to meet the substantial evidence test,” the letter states, in part.

In addition to a “minimum” number of local witnesses to include various Cape Coral officials including the city manager, utilities director, fire chief and attorney as well Donald W. Depew, who prepared the city’s report supporting annexation, the former plaintiffs will need to call a representative of the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund of Florida, a process that will take a minimum of 30 days, Hannon wrote.

“We see no indication on the agenda for the December 9 meeting that the requirements for the development of substantial evidence, our right to be heard, our right to cross-examination and to present evidence will be accommodated,” he wrote.

“Therefore, we request that the matter either be re-scheduled or assigned to a Hearing Examiner for the protection of our right to procedural due process.”

The city could not be immediately reached for comment.