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Council denies rezoning for parking lot

December 5, 2018
Pine Island Eagle

The Cape Coral City Council on Monday narrowly denied the rezoning of a parking lot as recommended by a hearing examiner.

The board voted 4-3 to deny an ordinance that would have rezoned .23 acres on 2121 S.E. 15th Place (behind Del Prado Boulevard) from multi-family (R-3) to Pedestrian Commercial (C-1).

City staff had recommended approval.

The rezoning was sought by the Yohe family to make the parcel compatible with future land use and an adjacent parcel.

The idea was to combine the site with property they own to the east to make a larger building site, using the land as a parking lot, with landscape buffers.

While city staff said the owners of the property had met the criteria for approval, the hearing examiner did not find sufficient evidence to support six of the 10 standards and recommended denial.

"The HEX recommended denial. That holds some weight. They did not supply enough evidence to the hearing examiner. It didn't support 60 percent of it. That's kind of important, isn't it?" Councilmember John Carioscia asked Robert Peterson, city planner.

Peterson said some of the evidence could have been interpreted in different ways and the hearing examiner saw things differently.

Also, staff pointed out that without rezoning, the owners would not be able to do anything with the property, thus making it unsaleable, as the land can not be developed with an inconsistent zoning and land use.

When Carioscia asked what business was expected to go there, Peterson said anything that is permitted in a C-1 zone, of which there are dozens.

Complicating things further is that the east side of Southeast 15th Place that abuts near Del Prado is a mix of older duplexes and commercial properties. Peterson said on the east side, things can be called either way.

It was too much for Carioscia, and Counci members Jennifer Nelson, David Stokes and John Gunter, who voted the ordinance down.

In other business, Council voted to continue a consent agenda item regarding the hiring of emergency disaster assistance and debris removal services.

Gunter was worried about liquidated damages when a contractor doesn't do the job that is asked.

"My fear is that we have what happened during the last hurricane where we had contractors jumping ship because it was more profitable to go to another municipality," Gunter said. "I want to make sure there is a clause to make sure they are bound here, and if they left, there would be some kind of a penalty."

Mayor Joe Coviello said the multiple hurricanes of 2017 here, in Texas and Puerto Rico made matters worse, with companies running around all over the place looking for the best deal.

"I thought the $1,000 a day was too light. I want to see stiffer liquidated damages if they don't come through," Coviello said.

Councilmember Jessica Cosden said that some of the companies considered were those who had jumped ship in the past. She said that should be criteria for any contract in the future.

Brian Fike, director of government relations for Ceres Environmental Services, which was named the primary provider of disaster services, said as a result of the number of storms, many companies left when they weren't designated as primary companies. He also said the company was never notified by the city or receive a notice to proceed.

Ceres was activated in 51 municipalities, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

"I know the fear you're feeling that we may not respond, but I am your guy. I know you're counting on me. You committed to me so I will commit to you," Fike said.

City Manager John Szerlag said there were some concerns Council expressed that he didn't understand, so he asked the board to continue the item to Jan. 14.

The city also approved an Interlocal Agreement between the city and Lee County EMS for rental space for its emergency vehicles and a resolution regarding incentivizing affordable housing in the city, taking out the recommendations of micro-cottages and accessory dwelling units.



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