On Monday the Fort Myers Beach town council will consider a moratorium on an ordinance that was passed last year requiring all new and replacement windows use glass with an inside to outside light transmittance value of 15% or less.
The modification made to the ordinance (21-03) requires anyone who’s replacing windows, and all new construction, to install windows using the 15% or less glass. The previous percentage was 45%, which is what the state requires. The change was made to provide more protection from light for nesting sea turtles on Fort Myers Beach, and help prevent disorientations.
The ordinance change rallied condo association residents together who discovered the ordinance hampered their ability to complete window replacement projects they were in the middle of. When the projects began they were following the previous ordinance of 45%.
They also believe the new rule of 15% is overkill, that it nearly blocks all the sunlight from getting into their units during the day. If you own or rent a unit on the beach, as long as your lights are out or drapes closed so that you block light from being seen from the beach, you are in compliance with the town ordinance. When turtle hatchlings see lights there’s the potential for them to get disoriented. The natural light from the moon pulls them toward the water which is where they need to be to fight for survival. If they are pulled away from the water by lights they could get stuck under furniture or die from exhaustion trying to find their way.
Condo residents also say the 15% glass is harder to find and much more expensive. Town staff disputes that claim.
On Monday, the town council will take up the discussion about the windows again. They will consider whether to implement a moratorium on the ordinance requiring the 15%. Condo owners want the moratorium to be 5 years, the Marine Resources Task Force Committee recommends 1 year. MRTF also wants there to be more tickets written for those who violate the turtle ordinance.
The town staff is recommending to the council that if they roll back the implementation of the 15% glass, property owners should be held more accountable to mitigate the light pollution. “The onus should be placed on the Condominium Associations and their property owners to develop and implement a Light Pollution Management Plan to prevent lighting violations and disorientation of nesting turtles and hatchlings. Such management plans should be a precursory condition and submitted to the town for review and approval.”
We will carry the Monday Town Council meeting live on our Facebook page.
I’m always amazed at the power that MRTF seems to wield over the Town Council. Last time I checked, residents— not turtles— pay taxes & vote. Last time I checked, turtles don’t go to bars, restaurants, & hotels. Tourists do. Turtles don’t have a lot of disposable income to support our tourism industry here on the island. Yet we bend over backwards for them to the detriment of our citizenry & our visitors. Everybody loves turtles. We get that. Nobody wants to be the bad guy & say that humans are more important than turtles. We appreciate the intentions & the efforts of the MRTF, but enough is enough.
The town council has a fiduciary duty to all citizens and property owners of FMB and not be any more restrictive than Florida State and other localities standards. Why does FMB Town Council, Town Mgr and staff think they know better than all others. Repeal 15% and go with 45%!!
Absolutely agree with going with the state requirements! Why would FMB agree to be the only municipality requiring such drastic measures in the entire state of FL? We need to move ahead with the state required 45%. Our condo is nursing 35 plus year old sliding glass doors and would have replaced them by now with 45% turtle glass but, instead have no tint at all since we cannot afford, let alone find qualified vendors for a 15% tinted glass.
Great point, exactly why does Fort Myers Beach need to have different requirements than other coastal towns and different than state requirements? The 15% glass is not currently readily available and the cost is prohibitive. Why subject island residents to the draconian requirements when there were only 7 total disorientations on the entire 7-mile long length of beach last season and only 1/1,000 turtle hatchlings reach adulthood? Where’s the common sense? Dear Town Council members, do the right thing and rescind the ordinance.
Dawn is correct, kill the requirement for good. Why is there so much concern for what MRTF “wants”? They are a volunteer advisory committee and their recommendations and “wants” carry no more weight than any other volunteer advisory committee — We see time and time again where recommendations from the other committees are routinely and totally ignored.
Why do we have to be different than anyone else in the state? And why a Moratorium? Why not completely kill this change?
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