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Sound stage request withdrawn

Church proceeds with expansion plans without contested element

April 13, 2013
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

A Cape Coral church is no longer seeking approval of a controversial sound stage as part of its proposed plans for further property development.

Cape Christian Fellowship is asking for an amendment to its planned development project, including a special exception that would allow for a "religious facility" in an area now zoned as single-family residential.

The church needs the exception to build a children's recreation area, food services building, covered pavilions and covered sound stage proposed. The completed grounds, known as Fellowship Park, would be open to the public.

On Monday, the church withdrew its request for the sound stage as part of the PDP amendment and special exception approval in a letter to the city.

"Cape Christian is focusing our time to understand the concerns of the city and our neighbors," the Rev. Dennis Gingerich, founding pastor, said Friday.

"We are continuing to move forward in making sure Fellowship Park is a place that everyone in our city can enjoy," he added via an e-mail.

Church officials did not provide any specifics for the withdrawal.

The 3,000-square-foot stage would have faced northwest, located about 80 feet west of Chiquita Boulevard South, according to a report by city staff.

Nearby residents had voiced strong opposition to the proposed stage.

William "Bill" and Suzette Tirelli, of 2120 S.W. 17th Ave., reside behind the church. They and another couple in the neighborhood circulated petitions last year to try and stop the building of what was being called an amphitheater.

"Obviously, we're happy that they pulled it and we don't have to go further," Bill Tirelli said Friday. "We're very pleased - me and my wife - but also the other people who were involved with it."

When the proposed amendment went before the city's Planning and Zoning Commission last week, the Tirellis handed over the petitions, which had close to 140 signatures from area homeowners, to the commission as evidence.

"Everybody's glad because now they're going to have peace and quiet, and they won't lose their quality of life," Tirelli said.

He hopes the church does not try for the stage later in the future.

On April 3, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-3 to recommend approval of the church's proposed amendment - minus the sound stage. It also recommended that the church pave its parking lots under the plans.

In Monday's letter, the church also requested removal of three conditions outlined in the city staff report as they were "all tied to the performances that were associated with a sound stage" and were "no longer applicable."

City staff had supported approval of the amendment, with conditions.

Staff recommended limiting the stage's hours of operation from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It also suggested holding the church to the existing noise control ordinance.

In the report, staff also recommended that the church be limited to 15 "special event" permits per year, with no more than two events per month. The permits are required for events anticipated to attract 500 or more.

Conditions regarding lighting levels were also suggested by city staff.

The amendment is set to go before the Cape Coral City Council on April 29.

"We do not anticipate that this change will necessitate a return trip to P&Z," city spokeswoman Connie Barron said of the church pulling the sound stage.

Cape Christian Fellowship is at 2110 Chiquita Blvd. S.

 
 

 

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