A group of concerned neighbors showed up to a Cape Coral hearing examiner’s meeting Tuesday morning that never happened.
Seefried Industrial Properties, which has a history of building warehouse and distribution centers for Amazon, notified the city of Cape Coral on Monday that it would not go through with the meeting, which would have been open for public input about rezoning the properties at 2500 SW Pine Island Road.
Seefried has proposed building a 181,500-square-foot warehouse and distribution center spread over 52.41 acres. Seefried is also building a warehouse and distribution center in south Fort Myers off Alico Road that is nearing completion.
In Cape Coral, the proposed warehouse land fronts Pine Island Road between Saddlewood Lane to the east and the edge of the Sandoval community to the west.
The land has two different owners. Matthew Muller owns the western parcel. Walter Johnson owns the eastern parcel under the Highway 17 Industrial LLC name.
Muller and Johnson each said they have non-disclosure agreements with Seefried. They each said they didn’t have any idea of what was going on or why the meeting was canceled.
The city of Cape Coral said the developer needed more time to prepare its application. Seefried could not be reached for comment.
About 20 residents of the Saddlewood Farms community huddled outside of the Cape Coral city council chambers Tuesday morning, where the hearing examiner meeting would have taken place. Saddlewood Farms is in unincorporated Lee County surrounded by Cape Coral. It’s an enclave of about 25 homes that sit on lots ranging from 2 to 10 acres.
The residents there have concerns about the noise and light pollution that a large-scale distribution center would bring to their rural neighborhood.
Heather Grubb, who moved to the neighborhood almost three years ago, said she felt some temporary relief. “We know they can still reapply,” Grubb said. “We know things can still happen. But this gives us a little more time.”
Grubb said she and her neighbors have concerns over what a potential Amazon fulfillment center would do to their community. “It’s going to cause noise pollution,” she said. “The traffic. The headaches. More accidents. Bringing in 400 employees, they say. Plus, the truck drivers on little Pine Island Road. It’s going to be chaos.”
Sandoval homeowner’s association president Gary Kuty shares the same concerns as the Saddlewood Farms residents.
Sandoval has 1,425 homes in a gated community. About 300-440 of them would be directly impacted by a new facility, but the entire community would be affected, Kuty said. “Pollution, both environmentally and noise, would have a negative impact on the homeowners in direct proximity to the distribution center,” he said in an email. “As a community, we are also concerned with the increased truck traffic on Pine Island Road, which is already heavily traveled. Residents are also concerned that it will have a direct impact on the resale value of their homes having a 50-foot building in their backyards.”
Like Grubb, Kuty said his feeling of relief seemed temporary. “I don’t have confidence that this project will not be presented again, perhaps in a different form for the city to consider,” Kuty said. “As a community, we will be prepared to stand united and have our voices heard loud and strong.”