The Town of Fort Myers Beach Nuisance Abatement Board was nearly derailed Monday when Mayor Ray Murphy did not solicit a candidate. The ordinance, approved 4 months ago, called for every member of the council to solicit one resident for the council to consider for the board.
There was some confusion Monday as to whether the board could even move forward without Murphy’s candidate. And, what if he decided never to nominate anyone? Would that render the ordianance moot?
It was eventually decided the board could be created by appointing 6 of the 7 members Monday and adding another choice from Murphy later on. For his part, Murphy said he would make a nomination and also asked people to contact him if they were interested.
The town had 8 applicants to fill the 7 searts. Jane Plummer was not considered by the council after Town Attorney John Herin advised the council that the Florida Constitution prohibits “dual office holding.” Plummer is also a member of the town’s Local Planning Agency. That left the council with exactly 7 to choose from. They picked 6 and will add another person at a later date.
And while other applicants such as Dawn Thomas (public safety) and Karen Woodson (Bay Oaks), also serve on other town committees, it appears Herin is advising the council that the LPA has substantive decision-making power, while the other committees are more advisory. Herin specifically highlighted “city planning board” from the Florida Constitution in his comments to the council. The Nuisance Abatement Board will also have substantive decision-making powers.
Town Councilman Jim Atterholt, a strong proponent of the board said the group will likely have an organizational meeting and get some guidelines from the Town Attorney.
He said it’s important to note that not an extra penny of taxpayer dollars has been expended to create the NAB. “I think there is a decent likelihood the NAB may never have to be utilized to take action against an entity in our Town. I would argue that not ever utilizing the NAB is indication of its success. We know it is feared by certain segments on our island.”
The NAB was created after Johnny Jackson was murdered outside the Lani Kai (an arrest has not been made for the murder) in the Summer of 2020. Many residents voiced their frustration with the what they said was a high level of criminal activity at the hotel. The Lani Kai management, while denying there was a high level of criminal activity at their location, did tell the town council it was implementing changes that would make the area safer.
Atterholt says it’s his hope that the deterrent effect of the NAB will be helpful in making sure key reforms are made in risk management for those particular segments of the island who have been a problem in the past. “It should also help to deter future issues which must be pretty serious in nature before the NAB would ever get involved.”
Monica Schmucker, an attorney, was appointed chair of the NAB
The other members of the NAB are: Anita Cereceda, Jan Flemming, Tre Gillette, Charles Meador and Dawn Thomas.