Thursday, June 30, 2005

Reply from City Manager Terry Stewart

Dear Mr and Mrs. Sauer,

My apology for the delay in responding to your e-mail. I just returned on Monday from a week away visiting my son's family and our new grand daughter. As you might imagine, there was a bit of work to catch up on, and also the additional calls and e-mails regarding the proposed school district purchase of The Golf Club.

Although your message was not addressed directly to me, I felt it a matter of courtesy to respond since I was copied. Please understand that my comments are not intended to represent those of the City Council and are intended only as observations.

We now know that the school district has decided to back away from the purchase. This does not totally resolve the concerns of many who live on or near the golf course. All it does is remove the probability that schools will be built there. The property is privately owned and as such, the owners are entitled to sell the property, just as you or I are entitled to sell ours. I cannot personally vouch for this information, but the New-Press reported that the course had financial losses of $2.1 million over the past three years. Even if you are correct about your observations regarding the reasons for their losses, the fact remains that their business is not profitable and they are losing money. As such they have decided to sell.

What happens to the property if and when it sells is the next big question. If it is sold to someone that wishes to continue its operation as a golf course then that is the best possible resolution. If the new purchasers were to acquire it with the intention of a different use such as but not limited to single or multi-family homes, then that would require a large scale land use change. Land use changes are lengthy processes encompassing several public hearings (at least two) with public notice requirements. This includes a hearings before the Planning and Zoning Commission and also before the Mayor and City Council requiring their vote of approval or denial. It is then sent to the Florida DCA for review and acceptance. If approved by the DCA, then it still requires a final acceptance hearing by the Mayor and council before it may be implemented. If returned by the DCA with the stipulation for any changes, then it must go back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a public hearing, and then finally to the Mayor and City Council for a final hearing. All of these hearings ( possibly four) with public notice requirements and final votes by our elected body are in place for the very purpose of insuring that the public is provided with the opportunity to learn beforehand of any proposed changes to land uses in their neighborhoods.

This same criteria was also in place for the School District because its intended land use was different from that which is now in place, Parks and Recreation Facilities. The District was required to apply for a land use change and go through all of the statutorily required public hearings just as anyone else. There is no possible way that the change could have occurred without you, or your neighbors and the rest of our community being informed and having full opportunity to voice your concerns or opposition.

I hope this helps you to better understand the current situation and the processes that protect you and all citizens in Cape Coral.

Best regards,

Terry Stewart

Terry Stewart, City Manager
Internal Extension 1450
External (239)574-0450