On Thursday evening, the developers of a condominium complex project in the heart of the islands of Capri presented themselves to residents at an information meeting.
About 130 residents of the Isles of Capri, the vast majority wearing matching t-shirts emblazoned with “Save Our Capri Lifestyle” on the front and “NO REZONING” on the back, listened to FCC Beach & Yacht LLC’s presentation and then passed most of the meeting giving their opinion on the proposed project.
This meeting followed a previous one in January, and attorney Rich Yovanovich, representing the promoter, told the crowd that they were not required to hold the additional session. He outlined the parameters of the proposed development, rezoning a 5.32-acre section of what is known on the Isles of Capri as the “Commercial Island” from commercial zoning C-3 to the mixed-use PUD, or development of ‘planned units, including three 168 single-storey towers that can accommodate up to 108 condos.
The property comprises virtually all of the hitherto undeveloped area on the Isles of Capri.
In addition to Capri residents and the development team, several county planning staff and a sheriff’s deputy attended the meeting. The Capri contingent listened politely, though they had clearly already taken an opinion on the project, only shouting “no way!” when Yovanovich claimed “we really don’t impact anyone’s view with this unit” and that traffic would be worse if retail stores, permitted by current zoning, were built instead of residential towers.
As the t-shirts indicated, the residents present at the meeting were unanimously opposed to the proposed rezoning and development. If the “Capriers” favored the project, they did not take the microphone to say so. There were no changes to the proposal from the last meeting, and the residents adamantly opposed it, so in general, both sides just stated their positions without changing their minds.
Joyce Beebe, president of Capri Community Inc., (CCI), the islanders’ association, was the first speaker once the developer opened the meeting for comment.
“We are here today to tell you that we strongly oppose your request (to) rezone the property on Commercial Island, owned by Aubrey and Fiddler’s Creek,” she said. She ended by asking “everyone who opposes the rezoning on the islands of Capri, please stand up”, which caused the room to rise.
The developers of the Capri project are closely tied to Fiddler’s Creek, with developer Aubrey Ferrao being the primary owner, Yovanovich acknowledged, though he noted that the owner and developer of the subject property on the Isles of Capri doesn’t is not Fiddler’s Creek, but that distinction has been lost on the locals. One asked if the skyscrapers had been taken down in front of lavish homes in Fiddler’s Creek, how would that be with the residents there.
One after another, residents took to the mic and, in a few cases, called via Zoom, to express how the high-rise development project didn’t fit the vibe of the islands they live on. and that they love. They told the development team that the land had been purchased subject to zoning and that they had to comply.
Matt Crowder, CCI secretary and head of the group’s Save Capri committee, organized the cleanup for residents. He told Yovanovich and his team, “we feel like you’ve given us a choice between something we hate and something we hate even worse,” referring to the implied threat of retail stores to heavy traffic if skyscrapers are not approved. “Be more creative” or “build the club – that’s what the property was meant for.” A resident had pointed out that the property was originally purchased to provide a yacht club for residents of Fiddler’s Creek.
Approval of the rezoning, which will require a super majority of four out of five county commissioners, will come after the scheme has been reviewed by the county planning commission. Yovanovich said they plan to submit their paperwork to the county in about two weeks.
In response to a Zoom caller, who asked him if he would advise against the project, since locals oppose it, Yovanovich said, “I will talk to my client about how to proceed, and we will make the decision to go ahead or not”.