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Answers to annexation resolution coming

May 3, 2017
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Control District is awaiting a response from the city of Cape Coral on its proposed settlement of an annexation challenge.

About a dozen Pine Island residents attended a Fire Commission meeting Wednesday to discuss the agreement submitted last month that district officials hope will keep the dispute out of mediation.

Fire Commissioners present were Michael Dreikorn (via Skype), Tonya Player, John Cammick and Ken Cox. Commissioner Elaine Chapman-Moore was absent.

"Regarding annexation, if somebody wants to voluntarily annex to Cape Coral then the law allows them to annex," M/PIFCD attorney Robert Pritt said. "What we're trying to accomplish is to discourage Cape Coral from further annexations here. But, if Pine Island was to incorporate that would put a stop to any further annexations of Cape Coral because they can not annex property from an incorporated city."

Cape Coral has 45 days from the time it received the agreement to reply. That deadline is May 16.

If the city rejects the agreement, the next step would be mediation.

"It's our goal to avoid mediation and come to an agreement with Cape Coral," Pritt said.

The proposed inter-local agreement is in response to a dispute with the city of Cape Coral's annexation of six city-owned lots on Matlacha Island. The parcel is made up of six individual lots that the city purchased in 2012 as part of a 491-parcel package. The parcels the Cape annexed currently serve as a parking lot for the boat launch ramp at D & D Bait & Tackle.

The proposed agreement presented to Cape Coral last month is intended to discourage further annexations by the city.

The agreement proposes:

* The City agrees to respect the sovereignty of the District

* The City will provide notification to the District of any proposed annexation of properties within the boundaries of the District

* The City will not annex property owned by it or under contract for purchase by it that is within the boundaries of the District for the next 98 years.

* The City will work with the District's appropriate personnel toward improvement and coordination of fire control/protection and first responder/emergency services on an ongoing basis.

This will include meeting at least quarterly to discuss means and methods of providing services of mutual benefit.

* The City will pay to the District a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) representing the amount of ad valorem that would have been paid to the District by a private commercial entity

* The City will retain the existing property development regulations and uses for a period of 98

* The City will notify and invite District input on rezoning or other land use proposals

* The City shall ensure any future rezoning of the subject properties shall not adversely impact vehicle traffic flow

* The City will allow unrestricted access to water utilities

The city acknowledged it has received the proposed agreement.

"Our City Attorney's Office is in receipt of the proposed interlocal agreement submitted by Matlacha/Pine Island Fire District," city spokesperson Connie Barron said in response to an e-mail query. "We will be reviewing the proposed agreement and determining how to proceed."

Questions and answers from the Fire Commission meeting

During the Fire Commissioners' meeting last week, commissioners did not make a presentation regarding the proposed agreement and went directly to questions from the audience.

Q. Pine Island resident Scott Wilkinson: Questioned whether the height restrictions of the Pine Island Plan would apply to Cape Coral's development of the annexed property.

A. M/PIFCD attorney Robert Pritt: "That's part of this proposal and until this process is over we're sill at loggerheads with them on that."

Q. Matlacha resident Mike Hannon: "I wasn't at the mediation but several people have said the mediator said if you weren't able to enter into an interlocal agreement one would be forced upon you and that costs could be imposed upon you. A number of us were wondering whether that's true?"

A, Attorney Pritt: "In the first place, it was not a mediator it was a facilitator because we're not in the mediation stage yet. If we go into mediation, then the cost of mediation could be assessed. The idea is to not get to the mediation stage."

Q. Hannon: "Has the Water Associa-tion taken any position on this annexation?"

A. Commissioner Michael Dreikorn: "At this time the Water Association has not taken any position on the annexation."

Q. Hannon: "At what meeting did the Fire Commission meet to approve this proposal?"

A. Commissioner Ken Cox: "It would have been a month ago."

Q. Hannon: "Can you talk about what the commissioners did to ascertain the opinions of their constituents on this proposal?"

A. Commissioner Dreikorn: "Each of the civic associations received a briefing and our document right now is fluid - it's our best first hack at a suggested way forward. It's in no way binding and if constituents want revisions, by all means our ears are open."

Q. Hannon: "I, for one, am not happy with the level of communication from the commissioners to their constituents about the elements of this proposal and whether to send it on to Cape Coral. My impression from statements that were made, both to the Matlacha Civic Association and to the Cape Royal Association, was that nothing would be sent to Cape Coral without a further opportunity for the various associations on the islands to have input to the proposal."

A. Roger Wood, president of the Greater Pine Island Civic Association: "This agreement was hammered out at the facilitators meeting in Cape Coral and anyone could have been at that meeting."



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