Board recommending changes to city's comprehensive land use plan
The comprehensive plans lay out the goals and policies the city wants to follow to manage growth and issues.
Cape Coral should develop more park and ride centers and urge developers to include art and cultural features in their projects.
Those are just two suggestions so far for updating the city’s comprehensive land use plan. Updating the plan has been the focus of a series of workshops by the city’s planning and zoning board. The board’s recommendations will be forwarded to the City Council.
“It’s an opportunity for the government to pause,” said Planning commissioner Max Forgey. “The comprehensive plan could be leaner. I’d like to see that.” Forgey is a planning consultant who worked on several portions of the comprehensive plan while he was employed by the city from 1985-1990.
“It’s always about dollars, and we’re trying to stretch them as far they will go,” said Councilwoman Rana Erbrick, who attended last week’s workshop on the plans transportation and economic development sections
Comprehensive plans lay out the goals and policies a city or county wants to follow to manage growth and issues facing the city.
Keeping roads in good repair is one of those goals but it’s been difficult because tax dollars have been diverted to other needs, Public Works Director Steve Neff said. The comprehensive plan update should consider the use of additional sources of money, he said.
About $2 million is needed each year to resurface the major roads every 10 to 12 years. Another $4.5 million a year is needed to pave local streets every 24 years, he said.
“If you’re not maintaining what you have you’re going to continue to fall farther and farther behind,” Neff said.
“Gas taxes have been one of our primary sources. They’ve been stable, but they’re flattening out,” Neff said. People are not using as much gas with today’s prices and lower mileage cars eating away at the revenue from gas taxes, Neff said.
Addressing the need to connect roads interrupted by canals is another issue, said Persides Zambrano, planning and permitting director for Public Works. Cape Coral has about 3,100 lane miles of streets and 157 bridges tying them together.
“Living in the Cape you learn not to take shortcuts,” Zambrano said.
Cape Coral could make better use of public transit a comprehensive plan goal, said Julia Davis, president of Omnibus Innovations Group Inc., which offers planning and management services to transit agencies.
“It’s something of an invisible service. You don’t see it unless a bus goes by,” Davis said. “Transit enhances the level of service on your roads. It improves access to jobs. It makes Cape Coral more attractive as a business location,” Davis said.
The plan should call for more park and ride lots to encourage more use, Davis said.
Money, economic development director Dana Brunett said, also is an issue for his office.
The city wants to use a personal touch to spread its message, Brunett said.
“We don’t have the monies I’d normally like to have to do some this outreach,” Brunett said. He and his staff are using social media to adapt, he said.
Improving the comprehensive plan chapter on economic development, Brunett said, also should include adding design standards for industrial buildings, identifying an industrial park area and de-emphasizing the need for affordable housing. The supply of such housing is adequate, he said.
Urging developers to include art and cultural features in their projects also would help the local economy, said Planning and Zoning chairwoman Patti Martin. The city could start with doing more to help the Cultural Arts Center, she said.
There also are gaps in retail goods to be addressed by the plan, Brunett said. Sixty percent of Cape Coral’s working population leaves the city daily to work and shop elsewhere, according to Brunett.
The city wants people to live and spend in Cape Coral, so more businesses such as the KIA auto dealership that provide jobs and draw people from other places are needed, Brunett said.
“We want to be sure bringing in some unique retail opportunities,” Brunett said.