Myerside Decision Delayed

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Following a marathon Fort Myers Beach Town Council meeting Monday, a final vote on whether to grant the owners of Myerside Resort two additional units, a restaurant that serves beer and wine, and a boutique store for guests was delayed two weeks. The issue was discussed by the council for over 6 hours.

The reason for the lengthy debate had to do with the fact that the town staff is against granting the zone change to Myerside. Community development Director Jason Green says the zone change from Residential Conservation to Commercial Planned Development is not consistent with the town’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code.

Town staff then created 31 conditions for the council to consider if they were going to grant the zone change. It appeared the council was leaning toward granting the zone change to Myerside so the council went through and discussed all 31 conditions put forth by staff. Some conditions were left in, some were kicked out, others were combined.

One example of a condition was for the owners of Myerside to “design, permit and construct a town approved sidewalk on School street. Another was a report for a professional arborist to submit a report to the town identifying trees to be installed. And yet another was for the owners to provide a public plaza with “appropriate community engagement features” along Estero Boulevard.

Town staff also wanted Myerside to certify its stormwater management systems every five years, something council members admitted has not been asked of any other business owner on the beach. That condition was deleted.

The final condition was a $500 per day fine of Myerside failed to comply with any of the conditions Town Manager Roger Hernstadt’s staff was trying to impose on the owners. Vice mayor Rexann Hosafros said “starting out at $500 per day is mean and stupid. This is complicated enough.” Hosafros said fines should be handled by the town magistrate. That condition was also deleted.

Along the way, according to attorney Beverly Grady and engineer Patrick Vanasse, who are representing the owners of Myerside, the town staff refused to cooperate with their clients. Meetings promised were never set up and e-mails asking for information were never returned. The town council didn’t inquire why their staff didn’t respond to the Myerside team. In fact the Mayor seemed annoyed that Grady and Vanasse kept bringing that fact up.

Former Fort Myers Beach Mayor Tracy Gore has been working behind the scenes to get the Myerside plan killed. Gore says she’s working against the project to protect the Beach school, however, there’s personal history between Gore and Myerside owner Beverly Milligan. As President of the Estero Island Taxpayers Association Milligan was very vocal when Gore was caught in a local bar talking about the TPI lawsuit with Vice Mayor Dennis Boback and Chris Patton, who filed the lawsuit. Gore was caught on tape discussing the issue but was cleared of violating Florida’s Sunshine Law.

There was also a last minute attempt this week by local activist Paige Rausch to kill the proposal. Rausch e-mailed the town council a 4-page police call report from “School Street” which listed several hundred police calls. Rausch may have been trying to imply the calls were all caused by Myerside. What she failed to mention in her e-mail to the council was that her e-mail included police calls from every school street in Lee County. We uncovered that of the several hundred calls Rausch sent to the council, three originated from Myerside. One couple left the resort without paying. A homeless man was sleeping at the church across the street. And, a couple staying at the hotel claimed they were robbed.

Because the town staff has been trying to convince the council to reject the Myerside plan by imposing 31 conditions, owner Beverly Milligan and her husband Rolland requested the two week delay to review whether or not they’d be able to operate the business at a profit with all the additional expenses they will face from the town’s conditions.

After the meeting, Milligan commented to Beach Talk Radio News. ”It was a long day and we look forward to town staff to provide us, in a timely manner, with an updated ordinance which reflects the very in-depth discussions and decisions made by council. Once we see them, we have to evaluate and decide if all of this makes any sense for us and the future of the property.”

Last month the Local Planning Agency unanimously approved the Myerside proposal. Former Mayor Dan Hughes said the plan is exactly what the town should be doing by preserving historical cottages. Several residential neighbors in the area have also come out in support of the plan.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Welcome to FMB where the town literally hates visitors, business and life and fun in general. Most miserable bunch of hacks stuck in one building.

  2. It is a family community there and it should stay that way. I do not mind additional units being added, but the issue is with the bar – that is 2 steps from the school. I was born and raises on that island as well as my parents and family. My friends family owned that property before these people purchased it, and her grandparents owned it before that, and her great grandparents owned it before that and I can guarantee that it was always meant to be a family like community place, not a bar. I didn’t watch what went down in the meeting and from the article, it does sound like they are asking it difficult for them, but that is what usually happens to outsiders coming in. They treat a lot of people like that. They treated Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville the same, but unfortunately, the money was too great and they caved.

  3. The majority of the 7.5 hour Town Council meeting I watched all day yesterday (live on BTR, thank goodness I didn’t attend!) was on this topic. Town Manager has GOT to be fired! Planner Jason Green is also a train wreck. The Council will be blamed for this mess and I am first in line to defend them, and publicly state (as I already have) it is the inept planning department with it head, the Town Manager Roger Hernstadt.

  4. I am no attorney but I believe that it is constitutionally illegal to treat one person or a business differently than others. So I would like to ask the town council if any other individual or company been treated the way Myerside was today with no cooperation from town staff and then be blindsided with 33 conditions and hours and hours of unfair treatment. If they say yes then I would like for them to give us an example; if the answer is no the council members need to ask Roger and Jason why? And then hold town staff accountable for their actions. Myerside was screwed over and treated very unfairly today. Why?

  5. As a FMB frequenter, I find this dispute a fine example of government picking and choosing large businesses over small ones. If Myerside’s business name began with Jimmy Buffet, would this fairly simple request be given?

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