After five hours of public testimony and discussion at its August 21 meeting, in a 4-4 vote the Cape Coral City Council voted to deny the request for a comprehensive plan amendment for The Palms of Cape Coral. The proposal would have set the stage for up to 771 homes to the 175-acre former Cape Coral Golf and Tennis Resort. At the request of the Save Our Recreation group, which opposed the proposed change due to the loss of recreation lands, 1000 Friends of Florida provided timely legal input on the issue.
Some City Council members had expressed concern that denying the proposal to change the future land use designation from Parks & Recreation to Single Family Residential would constitute a taking under the Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Protection Act. 1000 Friends of Florida Policy and Planning Director Thomas Hawkins submitted a letter and memo to the City of Cape Coral indicating that denying the proposed comprehensive plan amendment would not, in fact, create liability for the city under the Harris Act.
Citing a series of legal precedents, Hawkins noted that the Harris Act “does not compel a local government to change its land use laws’” and that the inability to develop a residential subdivision “does not create an inordinate burden on the property owner.” Said Hawkins, “We hope this information clarifies that local governments are not required to amend their comprehensive plans to allow private landowners to develop.”
For more information, see the News-Press article on the vote and review Thomas Hawkins’ letter and memo to the City of Cape Coral. We also hope you’ll support 1000 Friends of Florida so we can continue to support citizens seeking to maintain their community’s quality of life.