CAPE CORAL, Fla. The next major phase in the city’s Utilities Extension Project is set to begin in August.
The $269 million “North 2” phase will force the owners of nearly 9,000 properties to pay thousands of dollars each as new water, sewer and irrigation lines are installed in an area north of Pine Island Road.
The project will force many who use wells to pay water bills for the first time.
The cost is $18,000 to each homeowner who chooses to deliver a lump sum. Homeowners can spread payments out over 20 years, but that would increase their cost to $32,000.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” homeowner Alice Siedelman said. “I mean I don’t wanna do it and I don’t think that I should have to live in a communist state where you have to do it.”
State law requires connection to public sewer systems when the service is available, and city ordinance requires the same for both sewer and water connections. Homeowners can refuse to link up to irrigation lines if they choose.
Siedelman said she didn’t know the project would affect her property so soon. But notification was sent far in advance, city spokeswoman Connie Barron said.
“The City sent a letter in November 2015 to all property owners in the North 2 area advising of the project and estimated dates,” Barron said in an email. “The project is starting later than the letter indicated. In addition, we have had articles in every quarterly newsletter since the fall 2015 issue – 8 issues – advising of the status of the North 2 project. The newsletter is mailed to every residence in the city.”
The project is having a chilling effect on home building in that part of the city, since builders don’t want to pay for wells and septic tanks and then pay to hook up to city utilities shortly thereafter, Experience Real Estate Group broker A.J. Ackerman said.
But Ackerman anticipates it will raise the property values in the long term.
“Here’s the thing — once it’s done, the home values do go up,” he said.
The phase will take a year to complete. Click here for more information about the project.