Cape Coral’s Planning and Zoning Commission discussed an amendment revising the development cap table for the Pine Island Road District by removing all development caps on retail, office, warehousing square footage and hotel rooms during a Wednesday special meeting. The proposed amendment also increases the development cap for residential units from 5,030 units to 8,615 units.
The Pine Island Road District was established in 2002 and bisects the city, comprising about 2,600 acres. The roadway is the primary east-west corridor in the city.
“[It] has direct access to Pine Island to the west and access to Interstate 75 through Lee County as it turns into Bayshore Road to the east,” Cape Coral Planning Team Coordinator Wyatt Daltry said. “It’s a very, very important roadway.”
The amendment involves revising development caps in the city’s text amendment, which Daltry describes as changing the city’s policy rulebook. “This is not something that you just present to Council and it gets adopted,” he said. “It involves state and regional agency review. We hope to present this to you then present this to Council in three weeks, bring it to the state regional agencies and bring it back for final adoption in either January or February of next year.”
Daltry said when the district was established, the then-state land planning agency, which was called the Department of Community Affairs, required the city to create a development cap table, which provided limitations on uses.
Current development caps include a retail cap of 4.4 million square feet, 1.6 million square feet for office/warehouse, 790 rooms for hotels and 5,030 units for residential.
Since it was established, there have been major improvements to Pine Island Road, including providing utilities to nearly the whole district and widening the road. These improvements, coupled with the success the city has seen in terms of attracting multifamily residential to the district, led to the residential cap already nearly being met.
Once the cap is met, the city is unable to issue development permits for residential construction. The improvements in the district during the last 20 years removed many development constraints as far as capacity, leading the city to pursue removing the development caps in its entirety.
Daltry said residential caps are the main concern, mostly due to the number of residential projects in the pipeline. There are currently 2,577 existing projects, 4,808 projects under review and 1,230 approved projects, totaling 8,615.
“These are projects we’d like to see occur in Cape Coral, so we decided to look at some options as far as how we can facilitate development without necessarily having this become a predominantly multifamily residential district,” Daltry said. “It’s astounding the number of projects we’ve had, and Hurricane Ian has not slowed things down.”
City staff followed up on ensuring the district doesn’t become entirely residential by adding language to the proposed amendment, stating the maximum number of residential units be changed to 8,615, matching the total number of existing and under-review projects.
“We are kind of closing the door for future projects beyond that in the Pine Island Road District,” Daltry said.
While essentially stopping more residential projects in the district if approved, affordable multifamily rentals will not count toward the residential development limit.
Planning and zoning Commissioner Jesse Marker said the city is underserved for commercial, office space, warehouse/light manufacturing and hotels.
“I do think that will act as a catalyst to bring in some of those developments, some of those larger, national businesses and retailers, etc., things that we need in the City of Cape,” he said.
The commission recommended transmittal of the item to state and regional agencies for review and will be presented a final time to Council for adoption. The item was introduced at Wednesday night’s Council meeting, with a public hearing for transmittal set for Dec. 6.