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Zoning change for housing complex OK’d

Proposed multi-family development could have up to 1,300 affordable units

May 15, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Despite all the pleas from residents who live nearby a proposed affordable housing development on Nelson Road, Cape Coral City Council approved a measure to change the zoning on the property from single-family to multi-family during its regular meeting Monday at City Hall.

The decision paves the way for up to 1,325 units of multi-family housing on 82.69 acres. The property was changed from multi-family to single-family in 2017 in error. The decision brings the property back to its original zoning status.

City Planning Team Coordi-nator Wyatt Daltry said the city has a serious shortage of affordable housing, and that this project would help alleviate some of that shortage and fit in with the city's comprehensive plan.

Residents who live nearby, as they did in February when it came before City Council previously on a vote to transmit a land use change to the state, stood vigorously against the ordinance.

They said they moved to the city for the nature, and that the planned development would destroy one of the most pristine areas in the city, not to mention increase the likelihood of flooding, have a negative impact on eco-tourism and create traffic nightmares.

Bill Becker, who moved to Cape Coral from New York City, said he had seen firsthand what neighborhoods become when you put low-income housing in an area.

"It's called a ghetto when people live on top of each other," Becker said. "The city does not need this. The kids will not grow up normally in a concrete jungle. The kids need nature."

The property features several ponds, which residents also said would flood because the concrete would result in nowhere for the water to go.

"When you see the property, you see water. Where will that water go with all the concrete?" asked Cheryl Anderson. "In Houston they put all that concrete down and you saw what happened."

City Council was gracious and thanked everyone for their comments. The problem was that since the Nelson property has vested rights dating back years, neither the city nor the residents had a choice but to let the project and zoning change go through or risk a lawsuit.

Also, with the city seeking to buy the old golf course property in south Cape Coral, pleas from residents for the city to buy the property also fell on deaf ears.

"We're all late to the party. We're too far down the road and it's a huge risk to say they can't do it," Councilmember Jennifer Nelson said.

"We're in the bottom of the ninth now. We all care about wildlife. I wish that 20/20 could have done something here," said Councilmember David Stokes.

The council voted 7-0 to pass the ordinance. Councilmember John Carioscia was absent.

Residents were unhappy at the result.

"It's ridiculous. It shouldn't be happening. It's beautiful back there and they are destroying natural beauty. It gives kids a place to go and breathe and get away from the stress of life," Troy Gutierrez said. "I don't understand this."



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