On Monday the Fort Myers Beach Town Council and its Local Planning Agency held a joint 2-hour meeting. On the agenda, the character of their community and how to stop houses like these blocking the view.
The LPA and the council discussed offering owners of these homes incentives to keep the lower levels open so there would still be a clear view of the water. Being able to see the water is one of the main attractions of Fort Myers Beach. Especially on Estero Boulevard which is so close and runs parallel to the water. Councilman Jim Atterholt and Mayor Ray Murphy use Publix on Estero Boulevard as a great example of being able to see the water when exiting the supermarket. That type of view is what the two groups is trying to salvage.
LPA member, former Mayor Anita Cereceda said the bigger question is, “what do you want to accomplish with the buildings? Think about what you want 25 years from now. 25 years ago we didn’t anticipate this. How do we preserve the flavor?”
What both the LPA and council are mostly concerned about is multiple adjacent properties being purchased and a huge house, not-so-affectionately called McMansions being built on the island blocking the view of the water. And, instantly putting their neighbors into shade.
Mayor Ray Murphy wants feedback from the community on whether the view of the water, both on the Gulf side and the Bay side, is important to residents as they drive down Estero Boulevard and other Fort Myers Beach roads. You can participate in our Facebook poll on the subject HERE. We have about 70 comments already in the first few hours of the poll.
Fort Myers Beach resident Sharon Mulheran McIntosh says “Of course it’s great to see the beach but it’s a little late for that to happen .” Susan Morris writes, “I think we have more important issues to discuss, instead of one which has allowed the the barn door to be open to long to save the herd.” Ron Weber says, “I have come down the last 5 years and love the view of the Gulf on the north end. I come there for the small beach town atmosphere.”
Both Mayor Murphy and former Mayor Cereceda have been around since incorporation in the mid 90’s. That was brought on because beach residents were worried Lee County would allow too many commercial high rise buildings to be built and the beach would lose its cottage community feel. What they didn’t really worry about at that time was residential homes becoming high rises and blocking the view corridor.
To be clear, property owners are not violating any codes. They are building allowable structures, according to the town code. What the town is struggling with is how to save the view, in whatever areas remain, before every possible corridor is blocked by a huge house. Another option that could be considered is stricter building codes in the future.