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Village of Estero’s planning, zoning and design board approved a development order for Marketplace at Coconut Point, a 10-acre mixed-use commercial plaza at 8001 Via Rapallo Drive, east of U.S. 41, north of Sweetwater Ranch Blvd. and south of Via Rapallo Drive. 

The site is on a tract known as tract 1-C, part of Coconut Point’s development of regional impact when it was master planned, meaning there is already a set amount of uses and allowable densities. The site is entitled to 90,000 square feet of retail, 20,000 square feet of office space and 19.65% conceptual open space.  

The applicant, Konover South, proposed a reduction of over 50% from what is allowed and was planned for the property. The applicant also increased the open space by 58%, providing 31% of open space on the site. 

The proposed development complies with allowable uses, requiring no deviations, variances or increases in intensity. The applicant had three objectives, with one being to submit a site plan that addresses the concerns of the closest neighboring communities. Despite the efforts to satisfy residents, an issue that arose with many neighboring residents at the Club at Rapallo was the layout of the site plan.  

The site plan sets a McDonald’s on the north end of the property, closest to Rapallo residents, and sets a Miller’s Ale House at the south end of the site. Board members, such as Jim Wallace, agreed with residents to flip the site plan to cause the least inconvenience to neighbors. 

“It just seems to me that from a convenience point of view, from a marketing point of view, from a safety point of view, it just makes a whole lot more sense,” Wallace said. “And I guess from a good neighbor point of view a lot more sense to move the McDonald’s.” 

Jeff Williams, executive vice president of development and construction at Konover South, said tenants’ proposed locations came down to the tenants’ desired areas and more parking being available at the south end.

About a dozen residents spoke during public comment, all opposing the development. 

The applicant located all buildings as far away from the site’s interior and the residential community, and ensured buildings are all oriented with the back of the house facing U.S. 41.  

In other efforts to interfere less with residents, the site plan also includes a 30-foot landscape buffer along Via Rapallo Drive, which only requires a 10-foot buffer. Landscaping includes raised landscape berms surrounding the site and enhanced landscaping at main entry points. 

Regarding the sound, an additional internal landscaping island was added between the north drive-thru building and the eastern property line to absorb sound further and add visual screening. All external noise generators, such as menu boards, order boards, speakers and microphones, will be located as far from the residential community as possible, with noise unable to be heard within 5 feet of the noise generators for fast food use.  

The site also offers pedestrian amenities from benches, a covered gazebo, walkway and sidewalk connectivity and a concrete pad and bike rack at an existing bus stop.  

Concern about traffic was satisfied, as the roads in Coconut Point were master planned and built to handle traffic given the maximum density of allowable uses.  

“I don’t think that there’s any question about the fact that what you’re doing here is the highest quality,” board member James Tatooles said. “But McDonald’s doesn’t belong there. It’s not an appropriate place for it. So technically, you meet all the requirements but not aesthetically and if you want to be a good neighbor, then I think that there’s aesthetics that are involved here, not the technical, as well.” 

Other board members like Anthony Gargano felt differently about the proposed development.  

“I’d like to commend the applicant for a really outstanding project,” Gargano said. “What’s been proposed is a much less intense use of this tract and if this were to go away, there’s no telling what you might get there.” 

The board approved the development order 4-3, with Tatooles, Wallace and Michael Sheeley being the three nay votes.  

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