After two years, the Cape Coral City Council corrected what a majority believed was an error in judgment on their part concerning the land use near a neighborhood on Southwest 15th Place.
The council decided to get the ball moving on changing the land-use from Commercial Activity Center to Single Family Residential in the area of Trafalgar Parkway.
The neighbors who live on Southwest 15th Place and vicinity applauded the decision. They were happy that big box stores and similar development would be allowed near their homes.
"We're ecstatic. We've been fighting this for a year and we finally won," said Don Parsons, a Southwest 15th Place resident.
The change passed 6-1 with Councilmember Rana Erbrick casting the lone dissenting vote. Councilmember Marty McClain was not at the meeting.
The land is already zoned residential, but state laws dictate the land use and zoning match.
Because the zoning and land use don't match, the discrepancy has prevented people from getting permits for seawalls or building a house.
The vote made good on what some on what council said was a bad decision in 2010 to zone the area CAC. At the time, it was thought commercial would be a better use. Some still believe that.
"When we were pressed to do land-use changes, there was gratitude that we made one mistake out of 26. It's better to admit a mistake," said councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz. "If you suggest we should be perfect. Sorry, we're not."
"Where we put the CAC two years ago, 10 of 11 home sites had homes. When we did this, we did not want to go into established neighborhoods and throw them into upheaval," McGrail said.
McGrail brought up the property on the other side of Chiquita, 16th Place, which was zoned commercial in 1989. But 26 homes were allowed to be built there.
"If you intended it to be commercial, why did you establish a neighborhood there?" Councilmember Kevin McGrail said. "You put the homes there. Now you're going to tell them 'Sorry, you have to move."'
Not everyone favored the land-use change. An e-mail from Julie Tinkham was presented as evidence some wanted the land to remain commercial.
Tinkham cited that Chiquita was a heavy thoroughfare, to be expanded into six lanes, which makes it ideal for business, something that would take the tax burden off residents. The email also pointed out that residents would have to look at a highways out their front doors.
Nancy Patti said the neighbors didn't do due diligence because the road was commercial and that main roads are used for business.
And it was Erbrick who cast the lone negative vote, who said the city was "victim of its pre-plated nature."
"The city has had that land zoned since 1989. The zoning would allow them to stay where they are and opens up for a commercial entity who wants to come in," Erbrick said. "That might not be possible now."
Patti said the decision was not a surprise.
"It was expected. I knew what the vote would be. I was here to support a good friend," Patti said. "It's a great council and I have to trust that."
The ruling will go to the state for approval before coming to the council for a final vote.