Punta Gorda plans to increase building height; sparks controversy

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

The City of Punta Gorda is looking to increase building height restrictions from 60 feet to over 80 feet and 100 feet in some areas.

“The City of Punta Gorda is on a path forward to make Downtown a more vibrant and attractive place, allow for a greater diversity of housing types, and encourage strategic commercial development as identified as key priorities in the 2019 Plan Punta Gorda City-wide Masterplan,” said Assistant City Manager Melissa Reichert.

However, residents fear this unwanted growth will change the city forever. They are concerned that building up in their city will bring morale down.

Punta Gorda locals made their voices loud and clear at a city council meeting, hoping to convince city leaders not to change building height regulations.

“New urbanism does not consider the health, safety and welfare of the citizens,” said Punta Gorda resident Jean.

None of these people, especially lifelong Punta Gorda residents Mike Polk and 35-year-local Shawn Kipfer, support building higher.

“They’re basically, you know, quadrupling or doubling the highest densities we’ve ever had,” Polk said.

“They want to build up to 100-foot buildings, from Sunseekers all the way to Fisherman’s Village. We won’t have a view of the water,” Kipfer said.

Polk and Kipfer said they see no reason to change the current regulations, which permit buildings up to 60-feet high.

The proposed regulations would allow property owners to have buildings up to 65 feet or 80 feet by meeting additional development mitigation requirements, like commercial floor area and additional street setback.

With more requirements, some buildings can be 100 feet tall.

That information can be found in the city’s land development regulations, or LDR, which Kipfer said she is firmly against.

She believes it will ruin the charm she moved to Punta Gorda for, and she is against the tall buildings in the middle of her water view.

“My biggest concern is that I don’t think the city council is caring about the public input here from the citizens in Punta Gorda,” Kipfer said.

In Wednesday’s meeting, city council unanimously approved the Chapter 26 Land Development Regulations.

City council read through the LDR on Wednesday before public input. They will read the ordinance a second time at a city council meeting September 20 at 5:01 p.m.

“These types of ordinances are required to have two public hearings,” Reichert said. “In most cases, all the debate, questions, and additional direction to staff takes place during the first public hearing. The finished final product is then brought before Council at the second public hearing, which is set to happen September 20th at 5:01 p.m. at the Military Heritage Museum.”

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.