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City looks at CRA expansion

April 1, 2014
By JIM LINETTE ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

City Council approved Economic Development Director Dana Brunett to move forward with studying the expansion of the Community Redevelopment Agency to include the Mid-Cape Industrial Park area.

The plan had been reviewed and approved by the CRA board of commissioners before Brunett brought it before council Monday night as new business.

"This is a chance for us to clean up an older industrial development in the city and increase the tax base," said Brunett. "It would assist in attracting new businesses and encourage established businesses to clean up or redevelop their property."

The area is generally bordered on the north by Viscaya Parkway and Southeast 9th Street, west from Del Prado Boulevard along the Rubicon Canal on the south and Cultural Park Boulevard on the west.

Councilmember Rick Williams cast the one dissenting vote that concluded a lengthy discussion.

"I think the borders are too big," said Williams. "There are some residential areas in there that does not make sense."

"Those residences are the area's neighbors," countered Brunett. "Their property values will go up too because of the redevelopment incentives. It's another tool in the toolbox."

With a 7-1 approval vote in his pocket, Brunett goes ahead with a needs analysis study to see if creating the separate CRA district will be beneficial. Upon completion, Brunett will go back to council for a decision on forming the CRA.

Council unanimously approved two ordinances dealing with the Land Use and Development Regulations associated with the city's participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.

Basically, the new ordinances incorporate the Florida Building Codes into the local floodplain management regulations in order to maintain participation in the flood insurance program. No members of the public spoke for or against the ordinances during the public hearings and council only had a couple of questions seeking clarifications.

In other business, council approved the city's labor agreement with the Cape Coral Professional Fire Fighters Local 2424 Union and reformed details of the union's pension plan.

Pension plan reforms will save the city $65.6 million over the next 25 years, according to City Manager John Szerlag. The agreement concludes negotiations that stalled several months ago before the two sides finally came to an agreement.

Among the changes are employees must work for the fire department for 10 years to become fully vested in the pension plan. New employees will have to work 25 years in the department or reach the age of 52 before receiving retirement benefits.

The contract approval completes the city's negotiations with all three of its employee unions. Szerlag said the agreements will save the city more than $185 million in pension costs over the next 25 years.



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