It’s unknown at this time if a Nuisance Abatement Board has the votes to pass the full Fort Myers Beach town council. It is clear considering one for the beach is still on the table.
Discussions about creating a Nuisance Abatement Board began after the murder at the Lani Kai in July. That was the last straw for the community and this current town council as they struggled with how to get the ownership of the Lani Kai to take the crimes happening at their location seriously. For years both Sheriff and Fire department calls to the hotel far outnumbered any other location on the beach.
At the August 3rd town council meeting residents, angered by the lack of action, used the council’s public comment period to voice their frustration. On August 5th during the council management and planning meeting the issue was discussed and debated by the 5 members of the council.
Without really tipping her hand as to whether she was in favor or opposed to creating an NAB, Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafras made the following statement that created a spirited debate on our Facebook page: “For all the conservatives in the room, this is an action where you can take away somebody’s property rights using a board of people that are not necessarily legally trained and they don’t have to follow the rules of evidence. You are really stretching it when you go into one of these. The possibility for abuse is huge. I would be really careful with this.”
Many comments from our readers were in opposition of creating another layer of government.
On Beach Talk Radio Saturday, August 8, Town Councilman Jim Atterholdt, who’s in favor of creating the board, said it would be another tool in the toolbox for law enforcement and it’s extremely limited in scope. “You have to either be dealing drugs, involved in prostitution, gang activity or illegal gambling. That’s it. So they’re not coming after you for not sweeping your sidewalks, for not trimming your hedges or having your blinds pulled. It’s very limited in scope and my hope is that we never have to use it. It’s another tool in the toolbox for law enforcement for habitual offenders. and who aren’t responsive.”
The city of Cape Coral created a 7-member Nuisance Abatement Board back in 2017 to give law enforcement another tool to fight illegal activities such as drugs, prostitution, theft and gang activity. The Cape Coral board is appointed by the Cape Coral City Council and hears cases brought forth by the city attorney, giving due process to the accused, with the burden of proof lying with the city. The board is able to impose fines, recover costs, record orders and even foreclose a property subject to a lien. Fines can be as much as $15,000.
The City of Fort Myers also has a Nuisance Abatement Board, which is made up of 7 members and 2 alternates who serve for a term of 2 years. While the City of Fort Myers board has not been meeting as of late, they were successful at closing down at least one nuisance business in the City.