New Ordinance Language Could Close Beach Businesses


New language added to an ordinance that now requires beach businesses to remove all of their equipment from the sand every night to protect the turtles has several business owners concerned they may have to close down.

Sharon Faircloth owns Holiday Water Sports on Fort Myers Beach. Her family has been in the water sports and beach vending business since 1991 with locations at The Pink Shell, The Best Western and Diamondhead.

On Monday Faircloth pleaded with the town council to change ordinance 21-03 section 32-113 “Beach Furniture and Obstructions.” Recently added language to the ordinance now requires businesses such as Faircloth’s to remove all of their equipment from the sand, every night during turtle nesting season. Turtle nesting season runs from May to October. Faircloth said this ordinance is now so strict, “it could put us out of business.”

She wants the ordinance to be changed this month, at the next council meeting, because she says, “business licenses are set to renew on October 1st and if the licenses are going to be based on the new language in the ordinance many licenses will not be renewed.”

The previous language gave beach businesses the opportunity to store their equipment on the beach in town designated areas. Faircloth wants the town to revert back to that older ordinance language which she says was approved in 2002 and “has successfully governed our businesses for almost 20 years.” That language was written in collaboration with town staff, Turtle Time and beach vendors.

Here is the new language: “Man-made objects shall not obstruct sea turtle nesting habitat during nesting season during nighttime. All obstructions, including, but not limited to, beach furniture, cabanas, umbrellas, tents, personal watercraft, bikes, vehicles, and boats, shall be removed from sea turtle nesting habitat between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. during sea turtle nesting season. During sea turtle nesting season, permitted beach furniture vendors shall not place beach furniture onto sea turtle nesting habitat before 9:00 a.m., or prior to the completion of daily monitoring for sea turtle nesting activity by the FWC authorized marine turtle permit holder, whichever comes first.”

The new language includes items such as tables, chairs and umbrellas so it will also impact restaurants along the beach. According to several people affected by the new language, while the language was changed back in February of 2020 it is just now being enforced on some businesses. Town trash cans are exempt from the new rules.

The council plans to discuss the situation at Thursday’s Management and Planning meeting (no decisions can be made at M&P meeting).


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