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Development to become easier in Cape’s commercial nodes

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Jun 6, 2024

Cape Coral City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that relaxes the requirements for nonconforming residential sites to commercial sites.

City Manager Michael Ilczyszyn said one of the things that was expressed is there is a barrier to getting commercial projects off the ground, especially in the north Cape.

“We have gone in and rezoned properties as commercial but sitting on the ground when done are single-family residential houses. A business owner to go into the north and open a law office, accounting office, salon — they would have to meet the commercial development standards need for specific space,” he said. “They need side yard buffers, expand parking.”

He said this expands business opportunities and reduces permitting requirements to find a way to allow those single-family homes sitting in a commercial node to be used as commercial without degrading the ability to use commercial.

“The ordinance is exactly our attempt to getting more commercial development and more business in the Cape on property that is zoned commercial, but is of a nonconforming use of a residential house,” Ilczyszyn said.

Planning Team Coordinator Mike Struve said the main purpose is to help encourage redevelopment of commercial sites with existing single-family homes and duplexes that are considered nonconformities.

“Owners of the sites were not an applicant of the amendment,” he said.

Struve said staff proposed that parking, solid waste, landscaping, and offsite improvements be relaxed.

“Who would be applicable? Any owner with property with a single-family home, or duplex that is a nonconformity. That benefit would be accrued by the owner of the property, but the future owners as well,” he said. “Owners that choose to demolish a nonconforming single-family home, or duplex will not receive relief.”

For parking there is a minimum of three parking spaces regardless of the building. A commercial trash bin accompanying an enclosure will not be required. Stuve said they can either provide roll-out toters from the garage, or building, or provide a smaller enclosure for screening the solid waste receptacles on site.

The landscape buffers are typically required along property lines, Struve said, which would not be required because in most cases there is not adequate width to install a buffer. He said it would require trees or shrubs.

“Offsite improvements could be lessened or waived by the director,” he said.

There are several advantages of the relaxed standards such as encouraging the elimination of legal nonconformities and the redevelopment of commercial sites; encouraging infill redevelopment on sites; clarify city regulations; simplifying and streamlining permitting; reducing redevelopment cost and having adequate safeguards.

Councilmember Dan Sheppard said he liked the ordinance as it helps entrepreneurs who are starting out with the ability to build their business and create something.

“I like where this is heading,” he said.

Struve said live work use, would not be allowed.

“It is not allowed in the C zoning district. They could not live there as well,” he said.