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Election 2017 Question of the Week:Should the city of Cape Coral approve a requested land use change for the old golf course acreage, which would allow D.R. Horton to proceed with its plans for single-family residential development on the site?

July 28, 2017
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Each week through the primary, The Breeze will ask the candidates for Cape Coral City Council an issue-related question. In the interest of fairness, each candidate is limited to the same amount of space, about 100 words, for their response. As you review the races, please note that Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, citywide elections. This means all registered voters can cast a ballot in each race, no matter party affiliation, no matter the district in which they live.

The third Question of the Week is: The city manager's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year has been submitted to Council. Please list three things you would cut or add to that proposal.

MAYOR'S RACE:

- Joe Coviello: Our master plan tells us we do not have enough land set aside for Parks and Recreation and I would not support a land use change and building 600 homes at the old golf course property. Both the P&Z Committee and Youth Council voted not to change the land use and City Council will be voting on it soon. I'm confident that if the land use change is denied the City can negotiate a combination of assets to acquire the property. Once complete the question becomes sustainability with an effective plan for all residents in our city.

* * *

- Derrick Donnell: For more than ten years the city council has struggled with the future of this privately owned 175-acre property. The council diligently entertained different options to obtain the property for parks and recreation usage or open green space. These efforts included but were not limited to purchasing and land swapping. Unfortunately, all efforts were unsuccessful and the condition of the property continues to deteriorate. The time has come for us to approve the land use change and work through the planned development project (PDP) process to ensure a development that enhances the quality of life for all Cape Coral residents.

* * *

- Rana Erbrick: With due respect to the surrounding property owners, Council has little choice but to transmit the requested land use change. Failing to do so leaves the city vulnerable to expensive litigation that we will not win. This City has unsuccessfully tried to purchase this property and now there is a private buyer with development plans. Despite perceptions, this is not an all or nothing issue. Proceeding with the transmittal starts the City's PDP process where all sides can work together on an agreement to secure green & open space, limit the number of homes, and account for infrastructure requirements. The conversation is just beginning.

* * *

- April Freeman: In order to avoid costly legal action, the city has no choice but to work with D.R. Horton on a sensible and mutual resolution.

* * *

- Michael D. Hollow: I agree with not allowing up to the 700 homes as indicated at the hearing, but I do not agree with the city denying the project altogether. We need to bring all sides together, sit down and have an open discussion as to what we want as viable outcomes.

* * *

- Kevin Koch: ?In order for this nightmare to finally be resolved, there needs to be compromise on both sides. Having DR Horton build 400 homes on one of the last green spaces left in south Cape Coral is not the answer. Leaving the property as it is, abandoned and neglected, is also not the answer. My intention is to negotiate with DR Horton with the goal being to change about 25-35 percent of the area to single family homes while keeping the remaining 65-75 percent parks and recreation. The future property tax revenue will go towards construction of an actual park in the remaining green space.

* * *

- Daniel James Sheppard III: No, we have a developer that wants to build around 500 homes. Our city owns around 1000 parcels and here we are looking for a developer for the 7 islands. Our leaders don't know how to make deals; therefore, we need a wise businessman that can execute smart business. Our leaders say we're business friendly; however, they invest in litigation against LCEC, costing almost $2 million, leading to litigation with this developer and continuously destroying our city's brand. It's time to drain the swamp because our manager keeps losing. We have the resources and it's time we start winning. Let me continue to be your voice.

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DISTRICT 1

- Jim Burch (Incumbent): Mr. Burch has withdrawn from the race; he is no longer running.

* * *

- James Frederick Foraker: I would definitely vote no. The people do not want a development of that size and description. One's elected to serve the people. In this case the people have spoken. A compromise can be worked out. Options include but are not limited to, a smaller scale development. A purchase by the surrounding property owners. The land use was put in place for a reason. I feel it should stay that way.

* * *

- John Gunter: I would not support 500-700 homes to be built at this site. The existing sewer & water infrastructure, the roads, and other utilities in this area cannot support this project. As a leader of our city we need to be aware of the "rippling effect" of our decisions, and not get tunnel vision on a particular issue, and listen to our citizens. Sure, I would like the additional revenue for our city, but I do not feel the benefits out weigh the negatives. I would vote exactly how the Planning & Zoning Board and the Cape Coral Youth Council have on this issue, "No."

* * *

- Graham Madison Morris: Despite my personal preference that this land would indeed be best suited for a park or public green-space, regretfully - yes, this is, at present, privately-held land - and to be fair, we must acknowledge and be attentive to the fact that property owners in Cape Coral, from developer to individual, would be within their right to pursue the highest and best use of their property by way of this process. My biggest concern, should the land use change be approved, is the PDP (Planned Development Project) that will follow. If elected, I will ensure that if the development does go forth, the serious traffic generation and environmental concerns are addressed.

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DISTRICT 4

- Jeffrey Alan Jones: The City of Cape Coral should not change the land use and allow D.R. Horton to build residences. Green space is hard to come by and the old golf course is prime land for a "Lakes Park" type safe hiking and biking trails. Failed golf courses are prime candidates to repurpose parks and recreation, which bring families and communities together. Once green space is lost, families lose too.

* * *

- Richard Leon (Incumbent): It is important to recognize that this land has always been private property. It has a designation of Parks and Recreation but a zoning use of Residential. The City, Council and I have tried different ways to purchase this property. We failed to acquire it at a reasonable means. Today we are faced with a difficult vote. Arguments can be made both ways. But if the City can negotiate for public park space; a 50' buffer that includes a 4-mile multiuse public trail; no more than 600 homes built within the property; most importantly don't allow 50 percent of the land to be used for development. If we can develop this compromise as a community, I will support it.

* * *

- Jennifer I. Nelson: I support the current land use designation of parks and recs. However, my hope is we can reach a compromise with our residents and city staff/ government realizing we would be removing the property off the tax roll. It would be ideal for the city to purchase the golf course and look at raising the revenue to accomplish this. Private endowments, public and private grants, CRA, TIFF, Partial 20/20,etc. The city could then support support some type of revenue generation from that land in the form of green space that offers quality of life options similar to a Zilker Park in Austin, TX or City Park in New Orleans, LA. We would need to explore other options down the road that help offset the loss of ad valorem.

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DISTRICT 5 (General Election ballot only)

- James Schneider: As one of the Planning and Zoning Commissioners who voted against this request at the time of their application and public hearing, I am the only candidate running for any office who has a clear history of their vote. (My record of voting can be reviewed through City Clerk's office). So why would you take a chance in electing someone who has no recorded definition of their intent, and is close allies with two of the candidates who are currently serving on council and plan to approve the request in order to allow the construction of up to 770 homes on 175 acres in a tight area of Cape Coral already?

* * *

- Dave Stokes: I would vote NO on the requested land use change. The Tetratech and Florida Department of Environmental Protection reports both stated there were very high levels of arsenic found in just the initial testing of the land. Both reports also referenced "Dieldrin" whose use has been banned in the USA and many other countries due to its harmful effects on health in humans. The first job of government is to protect the health and safety of residents. Florida Gulf Ventures needs to do further testing and cleanup at their expense to make sure our residents are safe. Hopefully, after this cleanup is done, the county would look take another look at purchasing this land with 20/20 funds again.

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DISTRICT 6 (General Election ballot only)

- John Karcher: "No" If this development proceeds, that green space is gone forever!

Tax dollars shouldn't be the only thing Council considers. Quality of life and public safety come first. Have public meetings with the stakeholders; evaluate what can be put there for the entire cape to enjoy. Develop a public/private partnership.

Adding 550 plus cars twice a day to Cape Coral Parkway, which is already overburdened, does not make sense. Mitigating safety concerns is wrong. Done correctly, this can be a destination for Residents and Tourists visiting the Cape.

Put it on hold "Plan, Do, Check, then Act."

* * *

- Rick Williams (Incumbent): There are many moving parts to this issue. Cape Coral needs both open space and parkland, and yet it also needs revenue generating property for sustainability.

The former golf course is a prime location for use by residents of Cape Coral. It is the last bit of open land in that area and should be preserved. We are moving forward toward Bimini Basin, which could tie in with the golf course property. I am sympathetic to the strong resident movement to preserve this open land.

I won't finalize my vote until the public hearing after I have heard input from all parties. However, but I am leaning toward not granting the land use change.

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Important dates

PRIMARY, Sept. 12, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* Voter Registration Book Closes - Closed Aug. 14

* Early Voting (primary election) -Sept 5-9;

- Lee County Elections Cape Coral Branch Office, 1031 S.E. 9th Place Unit 3

- Cape Coral Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace

- GENERAL, Nov. 7, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* Voter Registration Book Closes, Oct. 10

* Early Voting (general election), Oct. 30-31 and Nov. 1-4

- Lee County Elections Cape Coral Branch Office, 1031 S.E. 9th Place Unit 3

- Cape Coral Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace

- Voter registration:

Applications are available online at www.leeelections.com, at all Lee County libraries, and other locations including Cape Coral City Hall at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd., Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce at 2051 Cape Coral Parkway, Department of Motor Vehicles offices, and all Lee County Supervisor of Elections offices including the one in the Cape at 1031 S.E. 9th Place Unit 3 A full list is available at www.leeelections.com.

 
 
 

 

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