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Guest Commentary: History and facts on the Mast Canal

By Staff | Jul 29, 2022

Jennifer Nelson

In light of questions and concerns from Cape Coral residents regarding the planned development of a car wash at 2807 Santa Barbara Boulevard, I’d like to explain the topic to clarify any misconceptions and/or concerns.

A property owner is required to develop their property in a manner consistent with the zoning. As long as the property is developed consistent with the zoning, it is considered an allowed use. City Council does not have the authority to tell the property owner what to build or what not to build, as long as it is consistent with the zoning. The city is not at liberty to force them to build something different on their property.

The zoning of this property was changed to C, commercial, in 2011. The C zoning district permits a wide variety of retail, office, restaurant, and service uses as permitted uses “by right.” By right means that if the application demonstrates compliance with the Land Development Code and other applicable regulations (e.g., stormwater), the development must be approved. All such approvals are administrative. There is no public notice or comment on permitted uses.

In hopes of clarifying this issue further, asking City Council to tell the commercial property owner what to build on the property would be similar to Council telling a residential property owner what model home they should build on their lot — Council does not have the authority to do so.

Regarding the filling of approximately 80 square feet of the Mast Canal, the permit needed was filed between the property owner and the Army Corps of Engineers. They property owner is awaiting approval of the permit. Residents with questions/concerns regarding this permit are encouraged to contact the ACOE which I know many residents have done.

The westerly 80 feet of the Mast Canal was vacated by City Council on Sept. 19, 2016 by Resolution 105-16. Vacation of rights-of-way require three types of notification: newspaper advertisements, notices to property owners within 500 feet of the property, and a sign on the site. All three of these requirements were met and there were also two public hearings on the topic. At the first public hearing, there were no speakers and at the second hearing there was one speaker. This is an important point to clear up any misconceptions or concerns that residents weren’t notified of the vacating of the canal.

I take my job as a council member very seriously. I pride myself in responding to residents who reach out with regards to any issue. I have provided my personal cell phone number to residents; encouraging them to call me anytime.

I respect everyone.

Communication is very important in educating and understanding the issues brought to my attention. I have responded to emails and phone calls on the topic of the development of a car wash at the location listed above, and the fill of 80 square feet of the canal. And while City Council does not have the authority with regards to this topic, I am hoping to coordinate an informal meeting between the residents and the property so that each can be heard and hopefully come to an understanding.

Yours with appreciation and respect,

— Cape Coral Councilmember Jennifer I. Nelson