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Ample opportunity for public input

August 16, 2013
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Cape Coral City Council will hold its final public hearing on the next phase of its near billion dollar utility expansion project on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

The elected board will again consider on Aug. 21 its plan to bring water, sewer and irrigation water services into the neighborhoods dubbed Southwest 6&7.

That's the area south of Pine Island Road, bounded by Southwest 6th Avenue, Skyline Boulevard, Gleason Parkway, Surfside Boulevard and Pine Island Road and this is expected to be council's final vote on whether to move forward.

The city is anticipating a heavy turnout for the special meeting as some property owners have voiced strong opposition to the costs of the project - about $16,000 per standard residential building lot; more for oversized and larger parcels and about $24,414 for those who don't have the money and choose to finance over 20 years.

Saying they want to give everyone a chance to speak, council opted this week to limit speakers to three minutes each.

That's also drawn some protest.

As a strong proponent of public input, we can see why.

However the three-minute policy is not unique to this issue and there is a tradeoff here - more people will have the opportunity to have their say and there is a lesser chance of having a property owner come to speak their piece only to wait until the wee hours and find the meeting has to be continued and they have to come back. That has, in fact, happened in the past when the issue was hot and tempers were hotter. So we'll not protest the "limitation" but, instead offer some alternatives to assure everyone can share their views.

One, whether you want utilities expanded into your neighborhood or don't, absolutely, attend the meeting and be prepared to use your three minutes. Use them wisely, stating your position succinctly.

Two, if your views cannot be so compressed, we urge you to also put them to paper. Take as much time and space as you need and then burn up the e-mail addresses to the city clerk and each council member. You also can drop your statement off at city hall with a request that all council members be copied. Snail mail works, too, but time is of the essence.

Three, request that your written statement be part of the official meeting record. While these contributions are not read at the meeting, the city clerk does advise council as to letters received and the positions expressed. By Florida statute, these also are public record and must be both retained and shared with those who make a public records request.

You will be heard.

The city clerk's email address is Rebecca vanDeutekom,

E-mail addresses for our elected officials are:

Mayor: John Sullivan,

- District 1: Marty McClain,

- District 2: John Carioscia,

- District 3: Lenny Nesta,

- District 4: Chris Chulakes-Leetz,

- District 5: Rana Erbrick,

- District 6: Kevin McGrail,

- District 7: Derrick L. Donnell Ed.D,

If you're affected, do weigh in.

- Breeze editorial



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