Atterholt Responds to Rood And Kroemer

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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.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Below is also a reply from an uninvolved reader responding to Jim Atterholt’s suggestion of reserving opinions and waiting to see how the litigation ends.

    Rob Taylor says:
    October 6, 2020 at 8:13 am
    Seems like a lot to risk just to “find out” and I have read or heard that it is for the whole neighborhood? Why would the Town deny this walkover and take this risk and deny something that helps several property owners? Does this make sense?

  2. Below was my reply to the Oct 6th story so the readers can follow:
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    On April 26th of 2017 the Town of Fort Myers Beach filed a similar lawsuit complaint in the same 20th Circuit Court of Lee County to resolve the ownership question between us and the FDEP under the direction of attorney Martha Collins ESQ. The lawsuit ended up being thrown out of court, as the town does not have standing, meaning, the town does not own this land. While we fully believe we do own this land, the FDEP was willing and defended the building permits for this walkover, located outside the CWA, without proving ownership. Contrary to Mr. Atterholt’s request below, the purpose of putting the dune walkover outside of the CWA is to help keep people from walking through the CWA. Currently, the public walks along all three sides of the CWA, which would be no different than us walking along the south end boundary.

    It has been clear since the November council meeting that the special exception was denied for personal opinions verses the special exception requirements and the facts as argued at the administrative hearing. Before voting to approve or deny, we assured each member of the LPA and each member of the Council had a copy of the judge’s orders, so they could read for themselves. They had an opportunity to research or call anyone for additional information. (Note, a copy of the judges orders are attached as an exhibit in the Quiet Title suit, available in the link of the main story above.)

    Personally, I am in disbelief that this council would put the FWC’s – CWA under risk, for land which they do not own, based on permitting already approved by the Department of “Environmental Protection.” When has a commonly built walkover in a dune environment ever had “impacts to the environment.” On the contrary, the purpose of the dune walkover, per the FDEP is to protect the dune and dune system environment. It is my opinion that boardwalks are beautiful in any beach environment. Eddie and my only objective continues to be pursuit of direct access to the beach, from our beach front properties, using a walkover as defined under the town’s ordinances. We have followed all the requirements of the Special Exception. As the town continues to deny our special exception due to reasons associated with the CWA, then it seems logical our next step is to confirm who owns the property holding the CWA boarders.

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