Creation of Nuisance Abatement Board Moving Forward

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It appears the Fort Myers Beach Town Council is moving forward with approving an ordinance that would create a Nuisance Abatement Board. The 7-member board is being created to help the community deal with public safety issues on the island. Councilman Jim Atterholt calls it “another tool in the toolbox.”

The discussion about creating the board began following the July murder of 22-year old Johnny Jackson at the Lani Kai. For years the Lani Kai has been a magnet for police and fire department calls and some on the council believe more needs to be done to put an end to the crime taking pace there. At the August 3rd town council meeting, many residents spoke out about the Lani Kai, stating something needed to be done to put an end to the crimes that take place at the hotel.

A Nuisance Abatement board would cover serious crimes such as murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, dealing drugs, prostitution, gang activity or illegal gambling. It would also give the Sheriff’s department additional teeth to deal with bad actors in a community. Businesses in violation could fave up to $15,000 in fines.

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.

Fort Myers Beach Town attorney John Herin brought forth a proposed ordinance Monday which was debated by the council for over an hour. Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros insisted than an attorney be part of the board. Hosafros is not in favor of the board but said if the council moves forward with this she wants it to be tight. The Vice Mayor is also an attorney. She said she doesn’t see this board as a very valuable tool.

The Lani Kai sent an e-mail to the council requesting a 30-day delay in considering the ordinance. To show the Lani Kai good faith, the council voted to delay the second reading of the ordinance until September 21st. We’ll have more on the Lani Kai’s request for a delay in our Thursday morning newsletter.