The Struggle To Save The View

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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.

15 COMMENTS

  1. The view is long gone. Not a sleepy little Town anymore.
    Leave building setbacks alone. They are already restrictive enough.
    Buy Gulf Front property if you want an endless view. Property Owners are high on the tax role and they support the Town and have rights.

    Go to the Beach and quit all the complaining.
    The Tourists are happy just to be here.

  2. It is water under the bridge, the view is gone. However, you can set up a charity so beachfront owners can gift their property back to the town, in order to turn the lot back to a park, offering the park to be named after the donor. You may only get 1 or 2 a decade, but slowly views could come back. Just a random thought. #Youcanttakeitwithyou.

  3. I vacation here every year and my sister lives one block off the beach…she lives in a gorgeous house elevated…still can’t see the beach. These big beautiful houses ate just that. Just dont lose the island feel..not everyone can afford all the luxeries that go with the big and beautiful. (Like Margaritaville)

  4. 100% correct!! Times have changed. It’s called life! People are just not used to change. In most cases change is for the better away!! We all have had to learn to adapt to new changes in life! So yes Get over it😃

  5. Just change the side setback code, now. In 25 more years, the important issue will still be our view corridor, which is directly related to the ambiance of our island. In 25 years, all the now-new homes will be dated, and newer and better homes will be being built. Insurability has a lot to do with what type of home a person decides on. The horse has already left the barn on establishing allowable building styles/designs (a bit “Stepford-ish” anyway). Even if all new buildings on the Gulf side had to have an open (underneath) and unobstructed view, that would also mean that all pools would have to be elevated and there could be no landscaping or ANYTHING obstructing the view corridor (Lordy…I can see all the “view corridor fines” going before the Magistrate!) Oh… and where do you put a garage? Governing under-building space would create a whole new set of problems. But, perhaps just upping the side setbacks another 5′ (but NOT adding any height that would look like the silos on Bonita Beach)…and even wider side setbacks for multiple-lot buildings. I also think we could somehow add some really good incentives to update our existing homes, and not replace them. Not everyone wants a new Rolls Royce, and a perfect 1966 VW Convertible Beatlebug can be just as valuable to many.

  6. Maybe something can be done but it seems too little too late. I’m sure there are many properties that have been purchased by people with the idea of building their dream home or luxury rental under current codes. If they are prohibited from this due to changing codes, I see a multitude of law suits against the town. When someone is driving down Estero Blvd. they should be focused on what is front of them rather than gazing at the beach or bay. If they are just driving through, they are on their way somewhere. If they live on FMB or are visiting, they can walk to the beach or bay and enjoy the view up close and personal. I loved the “feel” of the Island back in the 70’s/80’s just as I did the feel and appearance of my physique but this is years later and some change is inevitable and unstoppable.

    • The Town and residents do not “own” the view. What are all the beach accesses used for if not to get a “view” and access. In order to get final permits from the Feds,State, etc., we were forced to build our home 4’ higher than we wanted to. If you want to save the view, buy the beachfront property and tear down all the structures. Do you want FMB to look like Hickory Blvd? I hope not!

  7. Get over it. You live in a one story shack built 40 years ago neighbor across street builds another one story shack. Guess what. You can’t see through the damn thing. Just because someone builds a newer bigger home doesn’t mean anything except you are jealous. Move or get a better job so you can a have a newer bigger home. Or shut up and enjoy the view of that beautiful home. Because if you live on the opposite side of the road you couldn’t see the beach anyway.

    • 100% correct!! Times have changed. It’s called life! People are just not used to change. In most cases change is for the better away!! We all have had to learn to adapt to new changes in life! So yes Get over it😃

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