Cape Coral dumps dirt on private property

Posted at 6:39 PM, Mar 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-24 18:39:08-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- A Cape Coral realtor wants change after the city used her clients property as a dumping ground during construction, Friday. 

Heavy machinery and piles of dirt were seen on the empty lot as workers constructed sidewalks along El Dorado Parkway near Del Prado Boulevard. Sheila Sweeney later found her "for sale" signs in pieces on the lot. "I was very angry. I was confused. This is how I make a living," she said.

Crews moved her other sign without ever telling her or the property owner. Sweeney told Fox 4, it could have cost her a sale. "My concern here as a realtor is this is my livelihood," she said. "If customers are driving by and see this, they think 'oh, it's sold, they're preparing it, she just didn't put a sold sign on it.'"

So can the City of Cape Coral do this? Councilman Richard Leon said they can't. "The city is allowed to park in the right-of-way [lane] and leave vehicles there, but we're not allowed to go ahead and leave equipment and dirt without the owner's permission."

Leon talked to city staff and Public Works said they are clearing the property and they will restore it back to how it was. However, Sweeney is worried about it happening again to her other lots and to other realtors. "I thought, wow, I have three commercial properties up on Chiquita. How do I know they're not using that whenever they want? I have lots on Cultural. It's just an unfair situation," said Sweeney.

The city sent Fox 4 a statement saying they are correcting the issue so it does not happen again. 

"With limited available staging area for the adjacent sidewalk project, this parcel was being utilized to temporarily stage materials adjacent to the public road right-of-way to maximize safety. While city vehicles can use right-of-way for projects, storing equipment and other material on private property for an extended period should be done with permission of the property owner. 

Public Works has removed all materials and equipment from this property and intents to grade and hydro-seed all the disturbed areas next week. The department  will be improving its standard operating procedure to ensure that permission is requested to utilize vacant lots prior to the start of construction." - Connie Barron, Public Affairs Manager