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Better planning needed

December 1, 2012
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

To the editor:

I have written the following letter to members of the Cape Coral City Council:

Dear Council Members,

I am writing you to make an appeal for better planning and preservation of the City of Cape Coral. I have noticed two disturbing trends regarding Planning and Zoning throughout the city.

1. The city government is following an alarming trend of approving the establishment of gas stations which are too close to residential neighborhoods and waterways. Residential neighborhoods that are too close to gas stations become ghettos. No one can foresee how long it will take for these ghettos to become established or how far they will spread into other neighborhoods - at least not until it is too late. This is how it happens... The residents in these areas cannot foresee the smell, odor and cancer that these gas stations cause until the problem is upon them. They later sell their homes at reduced prices and low-income tenants move in. Crime goes up. More neighbors move out and the urban blight spreads into other neighborhoods. Don't take my word for it, drive around the residential blocks that are adjacent to well-established gas stations in Fort Myers. Please do not force the poorer members of our society to live near cancer-causing Benzene fumes. Do not condemn their children to being afflicted by leukemia. Please read and become familiar with the enclosed Public Health Statement from the Department of Health and Human Services. My suggestion, which is based on extensive research, is to keep an absolute minimum of a 164-foot distance between residential housing and gas stations. Many European countries are recommending a 328-foot setback for new gas station construction, based on several well-known cancer studies.

2. This ludicrous idea of scattering nodes of commercial centers at various intersections is unconventional and inadvisable. I understand the dilemma that you have and the point that you make, when you say that the founding fathers have not planned well for commercial development. This doesn't mean you should make it even worse by creating a scattered, sprawling mix-zoned mess that scares away tourists and real estate purchasers. Good zoning practice establishes a central commercial zone and buffers it with professional and multifamily uses before reaching the borders of the residential zones. Older communities which have had the same problem, have managed to create sustainable development projects. Can't you consult with them and take wisdom from how they have worked? There is a reason why cities like Boca Raton are so beautifulprofessional planning. Finally, there should be more focus on developing urban meeting places that are pedestrian and bicycle friendly. More outdoor cafes and smaller shopping centers.

You should know that most of the 200 members of the Skyline Waterways neighborhood agree with me. If you ask the other residents of Cape Coral they will probably also agree. Please, remember how you came to be in office. You are the guardians of the public trust - bear that title with honor. Thank you for your consideration in these matters.

Best regards,

Erika Karesen

Cape Coral



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