Last week we reported about how the Fort Myers Beach Town Council’s legal battle with homeowners Eddie Rood and Kurt Kroemer could wind up costing taxpayers millions of dollars more for beach renourishment. Kroemer is now responding to criticism he received from a local resident who’s called them out regarding the CWA
Local resident Wendy Heron says Rood and Kroemer are acting like they can’t get to the beach because of the CWA and is calling it a bunch of bull. “So we should sacrifice the Critical Wildlife Area because they can’t walk 10 minutes to get to the water? I believe it’s called “Critical” for a reason. The birds that nest there need that area to be able to raise their young safely so they continue to thrive in a safe environment.”
Heron goes on to say that “these two Texans knew the CWA was there when they bought their properties. Why do people come here to change what attracted them to FMB? I wonder if these two men would be able to pull this off on San Padre which is a protected barrier island in Texas.”
After receiving all the state permits needed, Rood and Kroemer requested a special exception to build a long wooden walkway from their property to the beach. They say the walkway would not disrupt the CWA. The town has denied their request which led to litigation. Three members of the council remain against granting the permit: Rexann Hosafros, Bill Veach and Jim Atterholt.
Rood and Kroemer say they can prove they own the land behind their homes where the CWA sits. They are in a lawsuit with the state of Florida now which will determine whether or not they do own the land. We should know the results of that litigation in mid-2022. If it turns out they do own the property it’s not known what could be done to the CWA. They cannot build a walkover without town permission.
Kroemer responded to Wendy Heron’s criticism by stating that it would be the town giving up the CWA on the community, not the homeowners taking it away. “We share in your frustration that the town council would give up the CWA to stop a beneficial dune walkover outside the CWA. If you do not believe the walkover is beneficial, then you share the responsibility of this loss as do the 3 council members who voted against our application.”
Kroemer goes on to say that the town is racking up legal bills in a losing cause. “The town spent around $300,000 litigating their reasons of why a dune walkover is harmful in a dune system. The Town lost. They were told no to their concerns by an administrative judge and were informed that walkovers are beneficial. We made sure each council member had a copy of the final order. Yet they still proceeded to twist the town’s boardwalk ordinances in denying our permits.”
Kroemer also said that he and Rood made it very clear to the three council members who are against the walkover that their land ownership suit would follow an application denial. “We gave them the documents, contacts, and resources so they could do their own research of who owns this land. Our goal was to leave the CWA alone and put our walkover outside the boarders. If you are frustrated, then direct your frustration to the council. Use your voting power to hold representatives accountable to Florida laws and property owners’ rights (Fl. Statute Chapter 253 Section 141).”
Rood and Kroemer have said they would make the walkover available to residents of their neighborhood but not the general public because of the liability. The request for a walkover all started when a neighbor found out he owned enough property to build what amounted to a fence blocking off people from getting to the beach walking through his backyard.