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Cape looks to add new way to fine code violators

Also on Council agenda: Storage unit regulations; council member's residency in district

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Mar 14, 2023

The city of Cape Coral uses two methods to cite violators of municipal codes: notice of violation, which goes to a Special Magistrate, and a notice to appear in County Court.

The Cape Coral City Council on Wednesday will consider an ordinance that would add a third enforcement option, a civil citation.

Before issuing a civil citation, the code enforcement officer would be required to provide the violator (property owner, tenant, contractor, business owner or vendor) with a written warning of the violation of a code or ordinance and establish a reasonable time to comply.

If a code enforcement officer finds the person has not corrected the violation within the warning period, a civil citation could then be issued and the fine would be immediate.

If the violation is found, however, to be a repeat violation, or the officer believes the violation presents a serious threat to public health, safety, or welfare, or if deemed irreparable or irreversible, the officer would be able to immediately issue a civil citation without notice.

To appeal the civil citation, the individual receiving it would need to request a hearing before the Special Magistrate.

A list would be created of common violations and quality-of-life concerns voiced from residents including violations involving RVs and boats; property nuisances like overgrown grass, litter and debris and dilapidated structures, illegal construction or permitting, and business-related issues.

City staff said the benefits are a more expeditious method of enforcement, more flexibility for code compliance staff, targets the violator and their actions, and is more proactive and more efficient. Drawbacks include not all violations are eligible, the need to provide due process, and collections.

Self-service storage facilities

Council will address the influx of self-service storage facilities in the city, caused, in part, by new residents who often need to put their stuff somewhere as Florida homes have no basements and little attic space.

The city has 1.5 million square feet of storage space, with another 1.05 million in the works. But there is a need to regulate where these units can go, officials said.

The city is proposing an ordinance where in the commercial district, no part of a self-service storage facility could be located within 400 feet of Burnt Store Road or 1,000 feet from another facility.

Utility rates

Council will consider a resolution to establish rates for water, wastewater, irrigation services, utility customer deposits, and fees for services.

Utility rates have not increased since 2012, making rates the lowest in the region, officials said, adding annual rate adjustments are now required to fund the master plan’s capital improvement plan, operating costs, and maintain debt service coverage and reserve targets.

The rates are expected to increase annually and will support the city’s UEP program and utility services to those who are now and will be connected in the future.

Borrowing for new fire station

Council is expected approve a new fire station through an ordinance to authorize the issuance of bonds not to exceed $8 million to finance the acquisition, construction and equipping of a new Fire Station No. 13.

A matching resolution authorizes the loan agreement with TD Bank for a promissory note in a not-to-exceed amount of $8 million, through a special obligation note.

Residency complaint

An addendum has been added to Wednesday’s agenda concerning the District 4 Residency Complaint. No backup material has been provided.

Informed that a complaint was received the Governor’s Office regarding Councilmember Patty Cummings’ residency in the district in which she qualified to run for office and whether she lives in her district now as required by the city’s charter, Mayor John Gunter sent a letter asking her to respond to Council within seven days, including an explanation if an issue does exist.

Cummings responded that she was displaced by Hurricane Ian and has since secured full-time housing within her district where she also has maintained a part-time residence.

The city’s charter vests council with the authority to judge the qualifications of its members and to determine grounds, if any, for forfeiture of office.

The meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.