Submitted by Sean David Hartman, Government Affairs Director

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Here are the Highlights for the January 5th Regular Meeting:

  • Not much, as this was another short meeting.
  • The Community Development Block Grant Board Has a three new members, finally obtaining a full board. 
  • Dr. Maya Robert gave the City Council an update on the bubble Curtain.
  • At the request of the City Manager, City Council has repealed a perpetual conservation easement with the South Florida Water Management District, so that way he can negotiate a new easement deal.

Citizens Input Time

Joseph Tranquita, representing the Egret Condominium, urged the Council to rezone their condos from commercial to residential. This has created an issue with banks and insurance agencies who see the residential owners as commercial/business owners. Waste Pro has also designated their building as commercial which has led to delays that would not happen if they were zoned as residential. 

Vincent Lehman spoke of a reverse concern. His property was purchased as residential but has since been incorporated into the Pine Island Corridor, rezoning it commercial.  He does not want his property rezoned back to residential, as he keeps construction vehicles on his property and wants to turn his property into a meeting hall.

Germaine Silyason (sic) is concerned about a problematic house in her neighborhood, 3808 SE 2nd Place, which is infested with mold, rats, and armadillos, and wanted to report it to the City.

Francie Metzker came to the City Council because she is the Lorax and speaks for the trees. 

“I’ve witnessed some of our trees being cut down, perfectly good trees,” said Francie.  “They cut two trees when they said they were doing the sidewalks.  I understand the sidewalks sometimes buckle, but those trees were not buckling the sidewalks that much.”

Sidewalk buckles are cracks or damages in the concrete, usually caused by long-term heat exposure, but which can also be caused by tree roots running underneath the pavement.  To resolve this, city workers remove trees that could cause this buckling.

Francie is not a tree hugger, she says, but she wants to keep good trees and offered to pay for replacing the two removed trees.

After speaking on trees, Francie inquired if she had more time (she did), before proceeding to mention how difficult it is to get out of the Kohl’s parking lot, which she described as “literally treacherous.”  She recommends a traffic light at the intersection.  Eventually, the buzzer went off, and sweet Francie ended with “I’ll come back another time.”

District 2 Councilman Dan Sheppard thanked all the citizens who came out to speak, but especially thanked Francie for her desire to “be a good citizen and beautify the city.”

Community Development Block Grant Board Has Full Slate

The Community Development Block Grant Board now has a full slate of five, meaning the board will meet in March.  

The Citizens Advisory Board, which advises City Council on funding for affordable housing and social services, was unable to meet last year due to lack of membership.  Their duties were carried out by city staff, who thankfully kept the Board Chairman (yours truly) in the loop.

Environmental Updates

Dr. Maya Robert gave an all-clear for the Caloosahatchee River and informed the Council that the Mandarin Canal bubble curtain has been operational for a few months. Three more curtains have been purchased and are just awaiting permits from the Federal Government, which, according to Dr. Robert, have been approved, but need to be processed.  So we should have those by Christmas. 

The City Council also repealed a perpetual conservation easement for the South Florida Water Management District.  This was brought forward by City Manager Rob Hernandez, who is negotiating a new easement agreement with the regional environmental agency.  It is unclear what this deal will be or if our environment and water quality will be helped or harmed.

Comprehensive Rezoning

The City Council approved a comprehensive rezoning plan, but it was not without opposition.

The rezoning involved 14 blocks of property, mostly rezoned from commercial back to residential based on market trends.

“The market is the market is the market,” said former Mayor and current Sorcerer Supreme Joe Mazkurkiewicz, who spoke in favor of the ordinance.  “The use is going to be determined by the market.”

Maz the Mysterious was there representing Newcomb Property Services, who own a block of property on the corner of Chiquita and Savona.  Mayor Mazurkiewicz explained that the property was split off from what is now the Aspire Apartments, and was zoned with it, meaning the property is multi-family residential.  

Newcomb Property Services sees commercial viability with that corner, and their rezoning request has been added to the broader rezoning ordinance

But Ken McLindon (sic), who lives behind the property, wants to know if the rezoning behind his property will lead to more traffic.  The question was rhetorical because the answer was yes.  

Ken’s surroundings had been rezoned from single-family to multi-family to mixed-used, with a condo on one side and commercial properties on the other.  Ken was not happy with Maz’s magic act.

“He says it’s a high-end marketable piece of property, although there’s residential built right up to the edge of it.  Right around the corner, there’s a 7-11 store and a Dollar General.  We also have a storage unit, so if that’s the high-end commercial property is going to be used for, great,” said Ken sarcastically.

“I don’t get it.  Again, my property changed from single-family, on that canal that they want to look down, to commercial property,” Ken continued.  “They changed mine from single-family…to multi-family.  Now we got a corner up here that they want to change back because there was some kind of an issue or a problem, there was a misunderstanding, my client — whatever, I got it — want to change it to what it currently is to commercial.  So you change mine. You help them, everybody goes away fine, and we’re still left holding the bag.”

District 5 Councilman Bobby Welsh looked up Ken’s property and found that it was not going to be rezoned.  However, that does not address his other concerns about traffic and the change in where he lives.

Watch the full council meeting here

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