On the Agenda: Cape Coral City Council Meeting Preview (May 15)

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The city council will hold its second regular meeting of May this afternoon.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 4:30pm in Council Chambers at City Hall, located at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd., Cape Coral. The meeting is open to the public.

Below are details on some of the items scheduled for discussion and possible vote, as well as the full meeting agenda.

Meeting Agenda


First public hearing on proposed changes to vacation rentals definition set for tonight

The city council will hold the first of two public hearings involving proposed changes how the city defines vacation rentals in its Land Use and Development Regulations.

According to the proposed ordinance, if approved, any property rented or leased more than three times per year for less than one month per lease would be considered a vacation rental property.

Once determined to be a vacation rental property, those owners would be required to pay a $123 fee, $100 inspection fee, and an annual $77 business license fee.

Since being introduced, the proposed ordinance has been met with a mix of positive and negative reaction. Those supporting the ordinance say it will regulate rental properties and allow the city to have a better grasp on safety, noise, and blight issues. Those against the ordinance say it could create additional obstacles for the vacation rental market, putting millions of dollars of annual economic impact in jeopardy.

Recently, the state took up the issue with a proposed bill that would tighten the regulations on vacation rental properties on a state level. While the House version narrowly passed, the Senate version died during the recent legislative session, keeping vacation rental property regulations under individual municipality control.

Monday's public hearing on the proposed changes is the first of two public hearings scheduled for the ordinance. The second and final hearing will take place June 5.


Staff recommending approval for new U-Haul location expansion plan

A final resolution to the ongoing battle between the city and the owner of a local U-Haul business could come to a conclusion at Monday night's meeting.

Charles DeBono, owner of DeBono's Stop & Go requested an amendment be made to the special exception the business was granted in 2000. The change would allow for DeBono to increase his U-Haul fleet from four trucks and five trailers to ten trucks, ten trailers, two vans, and two pick-up trucks.

The recommendation was met with a recommendation for denial by city staff, who cited the location was not large enough to sufficiently house the increased inventory. Agreeing with the recommendation, the city's Planning & Zoning Commission denied DeBono's request in June 2016.

In response, DeBono came to the city council in March of this year asking the council to reverse P&Z's decision and allow for the expansion of the business' inventory.

While the city council did not approve or deny his request, it did allow for a delay in making a final decision on the request for two months to allow DeBono and the city to try and come to an agreement.

As a result of those conversations, city staff is reporting that DeBono altered his request asking instead for five trucks, eight trailers, three vans, and one pick-up truck, one auto transport, and two tow dollies.

Based on the amended request, city staff is now recommending approval of the expansion plan.


City Manager to propose end to eminent domain battle

A long-running dispute between the city and property owners of five acres near Pine Island Road could come to a conclusion during Monday night's meeting.

The dispute stems from the city's need for new irrigation storage tanks to accommodate for the upcoming North 2 phase of the Utilities Expansion Project (UEP).

To construct those tanks, the city sought to acquire five acres owned by Jeff and Ginny Bunch through eminent domain.

The couple vehemently fought the city's attempt to acquire the land, saying the offer they received was well below market value for the property.

Since bringing their issue to the city council, the couple has been a frequent fixture at the meetings asking and sometimes demanding a resolution to the issue.

While the Bunches have been outspoken on the matter, the city has remained publicly quiet saying it could not respond due to it being an ongoing legal matter.

However, at Monday's meeting, City Manager John Szerlag will recommend to the city council that it purchase instead, a five-acre property next to the Bunch land for the construction of the irrigation storage tank.

In a memo to city council, Szerlag shows that both properties are nearly identical in what they have to offer. But, says that due to the impending litigation involved with moving forward with the Bunch property, the other property owned by Florida Properties III, LLC is a better and more cost efficient option for the city.


Hiring of SE 47th Terrace Streetscape Project Construction Manager at Risk up for approval

City Manager John Szerlag will seek approval to hire Chris-Tel Company of Southwest Florida as the Construction Manager at Risk for the SE 37th Terrace Streetscape Improvement Project.

Szerlag and city staff have spent the last month negotiating with the company after receiving approval from city council to move forward with the process in February.

If approved, Chris-Tel will receive $102,990 for their services related to the project.

The renovation of what many call the entertainment heart of the South Cape will include expanded brick paver sidewalks on both sides of the road, new landscaping, and custom street lighting from Coronado Parkway to Del Prado Boulevard. Also, the renovation plans include the elimination of on-street parking and a roundabout at the intersection of Vincennes Boulevard and SE 47th Terrace.

The entire cost of the project is expected to be $8.5 million with the city and CRA sharing the cost. Plans currently have ground being broken on the renovations later this year with an expected construction time of nine to twelve months.


Downtown Village Square developer to ask for another extension

Developers of the proposed Downtown Village Square project will once again come before the city council to ask for an extension on the project.

The city approved the Planned Development Project plan in 2010. The plan included a multi-story development featuring a mix of commercial and residential units as well as a large-scale parking garage. Unfortunately, like many projects at the time, the Downtown Village Square development came to a screeching halt due to the downturn in the economy.

Due to the downturn and ability to qualify for government programs, developers have asked for and received a number of extensions, the latest being last year that saw the requirement for commencing substantial construction extended from May 2016 to May 2017.

Now representatives for the developer, Robbie Lee are asking for another extension to allow more time to put all the pieces together to begin submitting for permits for the project.

Lee is asking the deadline for commencing substantial construction be extended to September 18.

After reviewing the request, city staff is recommending approval of extending the deadline to September.