Cape takes step toward developing Seven Islands

CAPE CORAL, Fla. The possibility that Northwest Cape Coral will be home to high-rises as many as eight stories tall is one step closer to reality.

The city’s planning and zoning board on Wednesday voted in favor of amending the future land use of seven different properties off Old Burnt Store Road. The change from single- and multi-use residential to mixed use would open the door to shops, restaurants, a hotel and a marina, along with nearly 1,000 condominium units.

The future land use amendment will go before City Council for approval in July.

Many who live in the quiet, sparsely populated northwest Cape oppose the development of the so-called Seven Islands area, which is adjacent to federally and state protected mangrove forests.

“Two overwhelming concerns of our members are the effect development would have on traffic flow, on noise, and also the third is the impact this development could have on the estuary,” said John Bashaw, president of the Northwest Cape Coral Neighborhood Association.

The majority of the association’s membership supports development “as long as it’s smart development,” Bashaw said. That means providing a connection with the surrounding environment, preserving neighborhood characteristics and limiting environmental impact.

And building height is a key.

“We trust that the city will keep their word and not allow anything higher than 8 stories,” Bashaw said. “Our membership was surveyed recently and we found that 85 percent of our membership, 1,060 members, wanted buildings that were three stories maximum.”

But some homeowners, like Tom Riti, don’t have such reservations about the project.

“There are many of us who believe we need the development of the Seven Islands area,” Riti said. “We need a destination point for northwest residents. We need Cape Coral to grow.”

Realtor Sam Yaffey believes it’s important that the estuary be protected. But he also believes growth is inevitable.

“There are those who want to see it as a park, they want to keep it the same, ‘not in my backyard,’ and those types of things,” Yaffey said. “But that’s an unrealistic attitude because it is such a valuable piece of property.”

Board members cautioned that development of the area is still a long way off.

 

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