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Seven Islands zoning, land use goes to hearing

April 16, 2019
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The first of two public hearings on the zoning and land use for the city-owned Seven Islands property was held Monday, drawing some opposition from those who fear development could impact water quality.

Cape Coral City Council has already determined the type of development it would like to see on the 50.71-acre site it hopes will become a destination in the north Cape.

As conceived, the waterfront acreage would allow for mixed-use zoning with numerous amenities.

The ordinance considered Monday would establish a mixed-use zoning district (MX7) that would allow for a maximum height of 115 feet (or eight stories), making way for the possibility of up to 995 dwelling units and 110,000 square feet of non-residential development.

The city purchased the property in 2012 as part of a $13 million, 652-acre, multi-parcel land buy paid for with stormwater funds.

Seven Islands was seen as the centerpiece of the purchase.

During public comment Monday, Matlacha Civic Association President Carl Deigert and Michael Hannon spoke out against the ordinance, citing what they say is the potential impact on the quality of life and safety and health of the waterways.

The Matlacha Civic Association is challenging the issuance of a state permit to remove the Chiquita Lock for similar reasons, causing a bit of backlash on Council Monday.

Councilmember David Stokes said the Seven Islands site is a "jewel of the northwest Cape," and he had a word of advice for Deigert concerning the protection of water quality.

"Maybe Matlacha can work on removing some of those septic systems," Stokes said.

Hannon said after the meeting that Matlacha island has sewers; it is Pine Island that does not.

The second and final public hearing will be May 6.

In other business:

* Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife had a large presence Monday, asking City Council to set aside a 6.1-acre plot designated as park land in the northwest corner of the city as a preserve for gopher tortoises.

Terri Brennan said that north of Durden Parkway there 390 tortoise burrows were found in the immediate area, thus making a preserve a near necessity. If the city were to use that land as a preserve, the Friends of Cape Coral Wildlife would maintain it, making sure the grasses were left intact as food and protection for the threatened species.

The Cape Coral Wildlife Trust purchased a property in an area where the Utilities Expansion Project was located and said, since it opened, the number of burrows nearly doubled, from 40 to 75.

They also said that the preserve would make a great ecotourism destination for the city.

City Council did not discuss the idea during their comment period Monday.

* City Council unanimously passed an ordinance allowing for the installation of two interactive community kiosks in the Community Redevelopment Agency to provide information to tourists and residents.

The kiosks will cost nothing to the city, and will generate revenue to the city of about $12,000 per year for five years, or a 25 percent gross revenue share, officials said

* Council adopted an ordinance to amend the adopted the city budget by increasing the total revenues and expenditures by a total of $36,614,158.

John Jacobs of the Northwest Cape Neighborhood Association questioned whether that meant the city had increased the budget by that amount and that the "extra money" and its use was vague.

"It was our tax dollars that we overpaid. How about returning the money to the taxpayers that did not get a property tax decrease or a decrease in the public service tax," Jacobs said.

City Finance Director Victoria Bateman said funds not spent this year get spent the following year, as some money spent during the current budget year does not get billed until the following fiscal year. The allocated money just gets carried over.

"We're not adding money to the tax roll or taking it away. We're moving it to a different period in time," Councilmember Rick Williams said.

"More misinformation," Mayor Joe Coviello said.

*Council held another discussion on traffic safety at the Oasis School complex with traffic engineer Bill Corbett, saying flashers can be installed in the area of the school to slow down traffic, though the danger of a pedestrian incident is low because most students either take the bus or get to school by their parents.

Very few children, maybe two dozen, walk or ride their bikes to school, officials said.

Public Works researched and found no history of any crashes attributed to the school zone or crossing movement, and staff recommends the use of a crossing guard during school hours.

 
 

 

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