Committee Wants More Turtle Light Enforcers

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On Wednesday the Marine Resources Task Force Committee unanimously approved a motion to recommend that the town council hire more people to enforce the town’s turtle lighting ordinance.

That motion came about during the discussion about the tinted windows.

Condo Association residents are unhappy that, last year, the town council revised an ordinance that requires new or replacement windows to have an inside to outside light transmittance value of 15% or less. The state requirement is 45%. The change was made to provide more protection from light for nesting sea turtles on Fort Myers Beach and help prevent disorientations.

Several condo association representatives on the south end of the beach have spoken up at recent meetings. They want the ordinance changed back to 45%. Some condo associations had to stop replacement projects that were already underway because the ordinance was changed during the work. Others are putting replacement projects on hold. The condo owners also say the glass is harder to find because it’s not used as much, its 4X more expensive, and it’s so dark in their units the 15% windows block out the sun during the day.

Environmental Project Manager Chadd Chustz told members of the MRTF committee that 45% has never been effective. He also said his research showed him there was about a $9 difference in the cost. Councilman Bill Veach said his research also showed him that there wasn’t much of a difference in the price.

The committee unanimously approved two ordinances during their Wednesday meeting. The first was to recommend the town council hire more ordinance enforcers. The second was to recommend the town put a one-year moratorium on the requirement for windows to go to 15%. In other words, the 45% should be allowed. MRTF Committee Chairman Steve Johnson added a caveat to the second motion; “that the town enforce the ordinance and write citations to those who do not comply.”

After a warning, the first citation for violating the ordinance is $250. The second is $500. If the violation continues the state allows the town to fine the violator up to $5,000, according to Chustz.

Another committee member brought up the question of whether the town could deputize members of the community to help enforce the ordinance.

Island Winds resident George Repetti, speaking during public comment at the end of the three hour meeting, sarcastically said he wanted to thank Johnson for attempting to restrict the activities of the residents on his end of the beach even more than the State of Florida restricts their activities. Regarding the recomendation to hire more people, Repetti added, again sarcastically, that it was probably a good idea because, “All Chadd Chustz does is annoy people at the south end of the beach. He doesn’t go up to where the big hotels are and the big money guys are. He doesn’t even go to The Wyndam.”

The town council is expected to discuss the 45%/15% windows at a future meeting.

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