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Cape officials provide update
February 9, 2018

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Industry leaders got an update on key issues Thursday night when city officials addressed those attending a Cape Coral Construction Industry Association dinner at Palmetto Pines.

City Manager John Szerlag, along with Steve Beckman, city building official, Paul Klinghan, public works director, and Vince Cautero, community development director, discussed a myriad of city issues affecting construction in the city.

Szerlag said in his time as city manager, he has brought in stakeholders to form groups to garner input from those affected by city policies.

He added that later this year, the city will do a complete zooming and land-use rewrite to make things simpler and promote growth in the Cape.

Szelag also trumpeted the city's street repaving program, the Southeast 47th Terrace streetscape project, median improvements and progress with the city's Utility Expansion Project.

Szerlag discussed streamlining the permitting process, including the use of online filing and one-day issuances and inspections, so the expected 1,700 issued building permits - four times more than issued in 2012 - can be done in a timely fashion.

"My goal is to make it easy to do business and provide top-notch customer service by making it a fast, efficient process," Beckman said. "We're re-evaluating how we're organized and the process. I'm open to suggestions."

"We hope our building department and planning and zoning are up to the task. I think we are," Szerlag said. "We want an environment of investment and want all of you to succeed."

The issue is especially important to those in specialty areas such as irrigation, where some said can't keep up with demand because they have to wait days, sometimes, for a permit to go through.

Another big issue discussed was vinyl seawalls, either as a cast or as a covering, which the city looking to allow as an alternative to traditional concrete or sheet metal. The issue is on City Council agenda for discussion at the elected board's the regular meeting on Monday.

"The only concern is that we maintain a color similar to concrete. We don't want purple or magenta walls, nor do we want block walls or wooden walls or made with steel that rusts in a few years," Szerlag said.

Members of the CCCIA said they felt an expanded relationship with the city will help as the Cape goes through this latest growth spurt.

"The city is coming up with a lot of great things as we continue to grow and working with the industry to make sure we go down the road together," said Bill Johnson, CCCIA executive director. "The city is looking for ways to make itself better, which in turn will make the industry work faster."

"It's a common goal and together we're achieving those goals. This is a partnership again," said Ed Ramos, CCCIA president. "It's a testament of the city wanting to work with us, the fact they're here."

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