The primary hurdle for a luxury RV resort in northwest Cape Coral was cleared Monday during the regular City Council meeting at City Hall.
Council unanimously approved an ordinance amending the land use classifications to allow for recreational vehicle parks in an agricultural district, with restrictions to allow for upscale-type developments but not "trailer parks."
It isn't officially a green stamp for the project, but rather simply allows such a project to be built.
"This allows us to submit a planned development project and see the project come to reality," said Project Manager Cliff Repperger of Avalon Engineering. "Before, there was no way to submit a project like this for review, so we're ready to design and submit the plan. It was important this step was finalized."
In the second of two public hearings, staff reviewed the specifics of the ordinance and went over the revisions from the original plan, such as the 75-acre minimum, eliminating the requirement that cabins have kitchens, and allowing recreational vehicles to only stay for 180 days.
Perhaps the biggest change to the project was the name, now called the Resort at Tranquility Lake, a concession made by the developers to ensure emergency responders don't get confused over where to go.
The neighborhood associations have been supportive of the planned resort, and stood before council again Monday to thank the developers and city staff for working with them.
"The neighborhood groups have worked on this for hours to come up with a great property," said Rick Williams. "It's great to move away from dollar stores and gas stations."
Council had no trouble passing the ordinance, saying this could help put Cape Coral on the map as a destination.
Repperger said ground should be broken by the end of the year, with the project to potentially open by fall of next year.
He also said the plan has changed slightly, including increasing the size of the sites. But the pools, swim-up bars and most everything else is the same.
In other business, the city council approved two new members to the Charter School Governing Board. Tammy Anderson was appointed to the at-large seat, while Darryl Hedlum was named business community board member.
City council also passed two consent items that were just set for discussion. One of them approved a Child Exploitation Task Force memorandum between the FBI and the Cape Coral Police Department.
The Department was also feted by the Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida for the 2013 Drug House Odyssey.
Among those also honored was Mayor John Sullivan, who gave a civics lesson to Caloosa Elementary School students along with Councilmember Lenny Nesta, and preached the importance of these programs.
"Kids are playing with dynamite with drugs and alcohol. The city always brings a wreck to school to show what can happen if you do wrong," Sullivan said.