Fort Myers Beach Town Attorney John Herin told the town council Monday that, after four hours of mediation with Estero Boulevard resident Eddie Rood over his ADA lawsuit against the town, the mediation was very unsuccessful.
Rood filed an American with Disabilities lawsuit against the town for refusing his request for a permit to build a dune walkover to get to the beach from his home. Rood and Kroemer say they lost access to the beach as the Critical Wildlife Area has grown behind their homes.
Rood filed the ADA lawsuit against the town last year. The suit claims: “As a result of the town’s acts and omissions, Rood has suffered humiliation, embarrassment, inconvenience, restraint on his liberty, harm to his reputation, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages.”
The lawsuit points out that back in 2011, Rood sought a variance from the town that would allow him to construct a front stairway into his home that would include a landing, wider steps, and a longer stairway with a less steep pitch, all of which he says were necessary to accommodate his physical limitations. Rood met with Town officials in the building department, and Rood discussed with them the fact that his physical limitations regarding his surgery and his knee and back problems prevented him from safely negotiating the front stairway, as constructed. Town officials administratively granted Rood his requested variance.
The walkover both Rood and Kroemer are hoping to eventually build is 298 feet long and ends before a dune. Herin told the council that part of the mediation disagreement had to do with the length. He said the proposed walkover ends in the middle and does not go completely to the beach. To that, Rood and Kroemer said, OK we’ll build the longer walkover if that’s what you want. To go over the remaining dune and sand would extend the walkover to over 400 feet.
Herin also said giving the public access to the walkover was discussed in mediation and that is a non-starter for Rood and Kroemer. They are willing to allow their neighbors access to the beach using their walkover, but they do not want the liability of the entire public having access.
Herin said the town’s outside council, which is part of the town’s League of Cities membership plans to move forward to file summary judgement. He says that outside council has indicated to him they are confident they will succeed. If you listened to Beach Talk Radio this past Saturday, it’s clear Rood thinks otherwise.
The fact that the town will allow the permits if we open this to public access tells me all the other reasons they had for denying our permit are irrelevant. It is well known that the town is looking for beach accesses on the Southend to help with the beach renourishment project. The town has already identified two other access points. Holding our permits hostage for a third is just not right.
Good for the town to want more public accesses to the water, especially along a piece of shoreline where few to none exist. And good for the town in elevating its plan as a negotiating point for permitting a private access. Permitting an access for only a few homeowners continues shutting out the general public and nearby residents not allowed passage.
Liked “permitting a private access”.
The city and state will lose this lawsuit which will cause a ripple effect of problems with the CWA. Get ready to open your wallets property owners. The beach replenishment will cost us a fortune. All this over a walkway that would not effect any turtles or wildlife.
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