Cape Coral City Council had no problem approving a slight adjustment in the size of deck surfaces, but when it came to the number of boat canopies, stuck with the status quo.
After rejecting an ordinance that would have increased the size of deck surfaces on canals while allowing at least two boat canopies per residence, the board adjusted the ordinance to provide for no increase in the number of canopies allowed during Monday's regular meeting at city hall.
The main idea of the ordinance was to reduce the deviation requests the Planning and Zoning Commission gets and the time city staff needs to process them. It was also recommendation No. 195 in the Zucker Report.
Deck surfaces would be increased from 110 to 120 square feet, and homeowners would be allowed a second canopy by right, with a third that could be approved by P&Z.
This brought consternation from P&Z Chair Patti Martin, who made a plea to the city council as a private citizen.
She said that among the cities she researched, she couldn't find one that allowed two as a right, with some not allowing any canopies at all.
St. Augustine and Venice don't allow the covers while Miami and Fort Lauderdale don't specifically allow them. Tampa and Naples only allow one, with the latter only allowing one in the center of the property.
"I understand the desire of the boat owner to protect his boat, but it clutters the canals and ruins the view," Martin said. "Canopies can become tattered and become problems like above ground power poles. It's the most damaging ordinance I've ever seen."
Resident Nanci Patti agreed, adding that the canopies could affect life underwater with the constant shade the covers would provide.
During council discussion, Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz praised Martin's speech and had no problem allowing for more deck space. He added that since 2011, when the subject of second canopies was first broached (they were not allowed at all until 2004), only four requests for second canopies have gone before the P&Z.
Of them, two were approved by the commission, while the other two were rejected, but later overturned by city council.
Councilmember Marty McClain said it isn't the canopy that's the issue, but what's under it.
"They have the right to protect their $200,000 boat. There's no special interest going on here," McClain said. "I don't see this as a detriment nor do I see people lining up for a second one."
McClain was the only one to vote for the ordinance in its original form. Chulakes-Leetz then motioned to approve the ordinance without the allowance for the extra canopy. That passed unanimously.
Another part of the measure is that the Department of Community Development will have the authorization to approve certain deviations.