By a vote of 3-2 the Fort Myers Beach town council approved an ordinance to create a 7-member Nuisance Abatement Board. The swing yes vote to get the ordinance approved was cast by Councilman Bill Veach. Mayor Ray Murphy and Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros voted against.
The approval came following a passionate plea from Councilman Jim Atterholt who said this ordinance was not being considered for minor nuisances, that it had a very narrowly defined focus on serious crime. He went on to suggest that the board might be better served if it was called The Habitual Felony Deterrents Board.
The new board will only consider cases that involve crimes such as murder, drug dealing, gang activity, illegal gambling, prostitution and assault. And, there needs to be two reports of such activity in a 6-month period.
Atterholt said he hopes the board is rarely used, and that would be a success. He believes having the board will act as a deterrent and it gives the council another tool in the town’s toolbox to deal with public safety. It’s clear both Atterholt and Councilman Dan Allers did not believe what was in place now to deal with serious crime was not working.
The town will set aside $50,000 to get the board rolling. It could be that the money is never used.
After a slight delay when his name was called to vote, councilman Bill Veach voted in favor, joining Allers and Atterholt.