Are The LDC and Comp Plan Flexible or Not?

24
22

Andre Mar Drive resident Greg Scasny lost his home in Hurricane Ian. It was recently demolished and he’s now in the planning phase of his rebuild with hopes of getting permits soon.

Scasny has also been keeping a close eye on the recent commercial building proposals that have been in the news of late. He shared his thoughts on those with the Town Council.

(Opinion by Greg Scasny)
Mayor, Vice Mayor, Councilman and Councilwoman,

I am writing to you today to give some unsolicited advice and situations of a rhetorical nature.

You all will be faced with several large decisions that will unequivocally change the future of the island and its residents. I know you all realize this, but in the end, it’s only your vote that matters. All the pomp and circumstance around the LPA and Town staff, does not matter (I am not saying they are not valuable). Only your vote matters in the end.

You are going to have before you many requests for increased density, intensity and height from commercial developers. They will all submit CPDs. Many, if not all will require a change to our Comprehensive Plan (CP) and possibly the Land Development Code (LDC).

You should not take these changes lightly.

Let me preface this by saying I am not anti-business or anti-development. Quite the contrary. But, speedy decisions made now I fear will have catastrophic consequences for the residents of this island and the Town in the future.

You are all residents of this great island. The Town was created by its residents. The Town only survives if there are residents to serve.

If we as a Town allow large changes to the CP/LDC or approve every CPD requested to facilitate a faster commercial build back, and allow greatly increased intensity, density and height, we will lose the residents that make our Town. Like it or not, we are a barrier island with a 2 lane road. Allowing increases in density, intensity and height not consistent with the CP/LDC will make it infeasible to live on our island, both financially and from a quality of life standpoint. I would venture to guess many of you may leave too when it becomes impossible to commute anywhere on or off the island or price pressures are just too great to sustain a daily existence on the island for all but the very wealthy, and if you are very wealthy, why would you put up with the headaches of living on a overdeveloped, overcrowded barrier island?

If we lose our residents, the Town has no reason to exist, and would most likely go back to the County. We all know what happens when that happens. We will have uncontrolled growth, and FMB will become the next Miami beach. We are just a cash cow in waiting for the County. There will be no semblance of the true FMB left, just in name only.

I am not saying that the Town should be inflexible. I am not saying we don’t need tweaks to the CP/LDC. What I am saying is that speed is not our friend in this situation. Sacrificing residential quality of life for a speedy commercial build back is a deal with the devil. This is truly a case where slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

We need to be deliberate in our end goals and we need push back on developers who immediately come to the table wanting a CPD to try and skirt the CP/LDC, and push them on that they can do WITHIN the current CP/LDC, instead of trying to accommodate grandiose plans that have no real residential benefit (sorry, a beach access, 15 parking spaces or even a water taxi are not great public benefits to offset the true costs to residents), and are only good for developers. Only when projects are totally infeasible due to LDC/CP issues (not developers financial goals) should a CPD be considered. It should not be the “go to” right out of the gate.

We need to put residents’ needs first. Residents are the reason the Town exists. We need to prioritize the residential build back and stop the militant interpretations of Town codes from staff against the residents and start working together to get people back in their houses as soon as possible. That’s a letter for a different day, but the sooner the people are back in their houses, the sooner the majority of the ad-valorem tax revenue goes up for the Town. This is a true win-win, not the horse trading to intensity, density and height that is coming down the pipe.

If you have any love for what FMB once was, please heed what I am saying. While I know we can never go back, we also don’t have to succumb to being the next Miami Beach, Clearwater, Fort Lauderdale and the like. Together we can find ways to bring back the “Old Vibe” with new, resilient, up-to-code construction, but not if we give in to what is being proposed on a daily basis.

The decision lies with you all. Please choose wisely.

Greg Scasny lives on Andre Mar Drive on Fort Myers Beach and can be reached by e-mail at gregscasny@gmail.com 

24 COMMENTS

  1. Another issue is if you open up the gate to higher density existing hotels will also demand same…
    That has Already started….

  2. Agree 100%! I’ve stated this many, many times. Most recently, on the Outrigger and Neptune plan posts.
    A few parking spots is NOT public benefit. THINK BIGGER!!
    Make the hotels fix the island for a floor or two of density. If they can fork out 38 mil at a drop of a hat, whats a few mil more to fix our island. Each hotel/CPD request takes on a huge FMB project. Hotel wants everything, then so does FMB.
    Pay for all lighting on FMB .
    Rebuild the park at no charge to FMB,
    Pay for bridge at Southend of island,
    Pay off loans for water system, roadwork on Estero project,
    Pay off our FEMA and SBA loans,
    Hotels purchase several parcels of land on both sides of their properties and donate them to the town for viewing of the Gulf, etc.
    Hotels want to be on FMB!! Why should FMB pay for our revitalization on our dime while the hotels reap 90% of the benefits! Make it on the hotels dime to revitalize. They will make it back and more just a few more years down the road!
    We got some great benefits from M’Ville. (Land at base of bridge, bottom of bridge reconfiguration, open view of Gulf, hotel on bayside of road, etc). Let’s get some great bennies from these deep pockets as well!

    ALSO, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the idea of streamlining permits for residential construction to get our tax base up and running to pay for our island bills. We will have a stronger leg to stand on in the CPD negotiations. Won’t get pushed around.

  3. Perfectly stated. We need to look at traffic, impacts on quality of lifeand water quality with increased density. Why should a place with 70 or so units be allowed to double their number of units because a hurricane hit? I can see increasing the height one story for floodplain regulations but come on. Doubling capacity? And that’s just one of many projects. Captiva fighting same battle. Let’s band together with Sanibel captiva and utilize common resources to help with sensible rebuilds. Also if the LPA and council cave to these large projects where does that leave Margaritaville? Are we open to a potential lawsuit because they were required to scale back? Maybe Margaritaville could be the example of future development utilizing the restraints and height limit placed on their buildings. Just a though.

  4. Couldn’t’ agree more. Keep your eyes on this council and make them accountable if they put these developers interests before the interests of the people they were elected to represent. The form of governing this island (five people with questionable qualifications for the job) that we have grown into is tenuous at best. Stay alert, folks, and rise up in protest if that is what it will take.

  5. Perfectly stated Mr Scasny! No matter one’s perspective your points are difficult or even impossible to deny. The five town counselors will be on record as to what direction is taken. Tread lightly!

  6. Very well said Greg !!!! I lived on FMB 18 years and lost my house and what I thought would be my forever home !!! My heart breaks that I had to sell and leave !!! Please listen to this man all residents matter and the town needs to listen or you all will lose this beautiful piece of paradise!!!!!!

  7. Great article, a lot of great points, a lot of people came here with the idea of being off the grid, unlike many places that are outlined. Mutually beneficial plan for residents and businesses is definitely a key to the future. Without both what would the tax basis be to have a home there and a town that can support it? I hope that some great minds can outline a defined structure on how to rebuild in a way that allows for a rebuild that takes all the issues we had before the storm and creates a sensible solution. The energy is very tense and we need some direction and outlines.

  8. Very well said and the sentiment of most residents. This Town Council will look back on the decisions they are making right now. We are not against development. We understand things are going to change but our little island did not grow with the destruction caused by Hurricane Ian. We are the same 7-mile island that was already groaning from overdevelopment. Tweaks yes but these monstrous proposals would destroy our island and community. Thank you, Greg for speaking for many of us.

  9. This letter is very much the key issue facing our community – particularly the parts on speed is not our friend if we approve a wrecking ball to our CDC and intensity and the fuzzy issue of modest Public benefits acting as justification for variances. Stay strong council and ask for moderation.

  10. Sooo well said !
    Residents need to be heard, this is our Island, we need help now – we need to be the priorty right now.
    Developers sweep in to make that catch, assuming they will get their way.
    Decisions need to be made VERY VERY carefully, giving the future and feel of this little Island the full respect it deserves !

  11. Great story! Especially the part of being a cash cow for Lee County! Look what Bill Semmer fought against on main Street, the county wants property tax only!

  12. I double down on what Greg wrote, I’m a snowbird and most don’t want FMB to become another Miami Beach or Clearwater. We liked what it was and know it has to be different but not all large resorts. That is why many of us decided to come to FMB. Thank you Greg, lets hope the Town Council listens .

  13. While not a resident just a guy and his wife who have been coming down twice a year for 20 years this couldn’t have been said any better. FMB truly is the people who live and work there and should be the town and counties first priority. I hope with all my heart that the eventual changes that will be coming will not be detrimental to the Vibe and Beauty that is Fort Myers Beach.

  14. Well said and reflects the sentiments of the real, full time residents of FMB. (Not the the snowbird owners or the investor residents who are here a few short weeks a year). It seems the plan of the developers is to propose some outrageous, grandiose monstrosity and then negotiate down to a slightly reduced size (that is still way too obtrusive) making it appear that the council has fought and won for the townspeople. Don’t fall for this tactic !! Represent the people who elected you and DO YOUR JOB !

  15. Very well put in words on how the majority of residents feel. We live on the South end and in season it can take us an hour to get up to time square I can imagine how long it would take if we allow these new mega structures to be built on our small island.

  16. Greg, thank you for clearly articulating the thoughts and fears on many FMB residents. Town Council, please make your decisions and cast your votes with these points as your North Star.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here