Fort Myers Beach Town Councilman Jim Atterholt has become the target of the ire of homeowners Eddie Rood and Kurt Kroemer who are fighting with the town for approval for a dune walkover that would give them access to the beach.
On Tuesday we reported that Rood and Kroemer filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida that they hope will prove they own the land in which the Critical Wildlife Area now sits behind their homes. What happens to that land if that’s determined to be the case is a story for another day.
Rood and Kroemer contend this matter would never have gotten this far (going after the CWA) if they were granted a special exception from the town to build their walkover. They say they had access to the beach when they bought their homes and, due to no fault of their own they lost it, which devalues their properties (read more about the history of the walkover HERE).
The reason they are voicing their frustration with Atterholt is because he was on the Local Planning Agency when they unanimously approved the project before the council rejected it. Keep in mind it was the previous council that rejected it, before Atterholt was elected to the council. Dan Allers was also on the LPA when it was approved. So the thinking was that with Mayor Ray Murphy in favor of granting the special exception, Allers and Atterholt could bring this to an end for the homeowners and the town if they decided to take another vote. However, Atterholt seems to have changed his mind, at least for now.
Here’s Atterholt’s posted a response to Rood and Kroemer at the end of our Tuesday story. We’re highlighting it here so all of our readers can see what he had to say, as they did with the original story on Tuesday.
Atterholt: I hope your readers will reserve judgment until both sides of the story are told in court. Ed (Rood) has powerfully described the position of the advocates of a “dune walkover” intrusion into our very pristine Critical Wildlife Area. I believe an even more convincing argument will come forth from the other side when both parties have their day in court. In the meantime, I encourage your readers to walk along the beach through the Critical Wildlife Area and make their own determination as to if a “dune walkover” would actually enhance this special preserve and therefore be in the public interest.”
Atterholt also responded to one of our readers who asked him why he didn’t just explain his side so readers did not have to reserve judgment.
Atterholt: Ed and Kim have been generous in the past in allowing me to appear on their show and I always welcome that opportunity. I am not sure that is the best place to litigate this matter. The Town is preparing to defend against litigation and it is not advisable to show one’s hand in advance. You are correct in that the “dune walkover” technically is not in the Critical Wild Area. I would argue that is just semantics as the proposed “dune walkover“ abuts the Critical Wildlife Area and it’s impacts on the environment are the same. I would like to address my vote on this issue when it came before the LPA. There was a unanimous vote in support but what is often forgotten is that only one side showed up to present. Do to problems in notification, the LPA only heard from the proponents of the “dune walkover.” When the matter later came before the Town Council, both sides were present and advocated for their respective positions. The Council therefore had the benefit of hearing from both sides.