Town ‘Sets Record Straight’ on Dune Walkover

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Fort Myers Beach property owners Eddie Rood and Kurt Kroemer have been using local news outlets to get their side of the story out about the dune walkover behind their homes. The town has denied Rood and Kroemer the special exception they need for the walkover and on Monday the town responded to what Rood and Kroemer have been saying.

The town’s Public Information Officer even posted a Fact vs. Fiction graphic on the town website as part of the statement.

Here’s the town’s full statement:

As has been widely reported by local news outlets, Edward Rood and Kurt Kroemer – through their corporate entities Squeeze Me Inn, LLC and Texas Hold’em – have recently filed a “quiet title” lawsuit against the State of Florida. These gentlemen sought approval from the Town to build a dune walkover on their properties, which was denied by the Town Council. Their new lawsuit does not involve the Town.

There have been a lot of rumors, suggestions, innuendo and misstatements regarding this issue, and we wanted to share the facts based upon public record documents as follows:
  • Mr. Rood and Mr. Kraemer’s lawsuit does not involve the Town, Mr. Rood and Mr. Kroemer have sued the State of Florida and only the State of Florida.
  • The lawsuit does not seek the dissolution of the Little Estero Island Critical Wildlife Area (“CWA”).  The sole relief sought is a court determination that “the Plaintiffs own in fee simple, the accreted land [behind their homes]  Nowhere in their lawsuit do Mr. Rood and Mr. Kroemer ask the court to dissolve the CWA.
  • Irrespective of the outcome of the litigation, Mr. Rood and Mr. Kroemer are required by the Town Code to obtain a special exception to build their “dune walkover”:
  1. Per § 34-652 of the Town Land Development Code (“LDC”), all beaches and wetlands whose preservation is deemed critical to the Town are designated as being zoned EC (Environmentally Critical).  Furthermore, “[accreted] beaches or wetlands, whether by natural causes or through beach renourishment or artificial filling, [are] automatically assigned to the EC zoning district.”
  2. The “dune walkover” is an accessory structure and per § 34-652 of the Town LDC, accessory structures in the EC zoning district may be permitted as a special exception.
  • The dune walkover was designed by Mr. Rood and Mr. Kroemer’s consultant to be outside of the CWA per their special exception application on file at Town Hall. Then why the new lawsuit?
  • Both the Lee County Circuit Court and the Second District Court of Appeal have ruled that Mr. Rood and Mr. Kroemer must comply with the Town’s LDC and obtain a special exception for their dune walkover.  Circuit Court Judge Duryea’s order states: “. . . under Sec 6-366(b)(2) [of the LDC]  . . . the proposed minor structure must meet the special exception process because it is not permitted by right due to the fact that it is not a perpendicular dune walkover. This categorization was confirmed . . . when the town staff member testified to the Council that the Code states that this type of minor structure requires a special exception.”  Judge Duryea order was upheld on appeal by the Second District Court.
  • The Town is treating Mr. Rood and Mr. Kroemer no different than any other property owner under similar circumstances.  In fact, only two or three months prior to their public hearing before the Town Council, the Town required Lee County to apply for and obtain a special exception to replace the four existing publicly owned beach “dune walkovers” at Lynn Hall Park because they are located within the Town’s EC zoning district.

3 COMMENTS

  1. The owners say they will cover the cost of erecting the walkover. But who will cover the cost of maintenance? All structures on the beach are effected by sun, salt, hurricanes and age. Even if the owners agree to cover maintenance, what happens when the property gets sold? Will the new owners realize they will have this responsibility?

  2. The owners of the property say they will pay the cost of this walkover. But who will cover the repairs when needed, and all structures on the beach are effected by salt, storms and sun. And even if the owners say they will cover any repairs, what happens when they sell, will the new owners realize that this is their responsibility?

  3. The statement that the town is treating our Special Exception like Lynn Park walkover application is almost comical. Please take time to compare the two applications for special exception found in Town Council agendas. Where was the Audubon or Turtle Time at the council meetings for the Lynn Hall Special Exception approval? No, the big difference between the two applications is the proximity to the CWA. The Town had its day in court while objecting to our FDEP permits over a three-day trial with the Florida Department of Admirative Hearings. During this trial, all 75 complaints which involved environmental issues concerning our walkover in relation to the CWA were reviewed. In the end, not one single objection the town made held any validity as reason for the FDEP to discontinue permitting.

    However, these very same objections already rejected at the DOAH hearing are being used once again to reject our Special Exception. So why did these same objections not come up at the Lynn Hall walkovers? Simple, it has to do with personal opinions instead of Special Exception requirements. During our FDEP permitting, we made it a point to move the walkover outside of the CWA boundaries, however, the town continues to use CWA opinions as reasons for Special Exception and permitting denial.

    The S.E. boarder of the CWA crosses both properties. We agree that our Quiet Title suit does not directly address any component of the CWA, however, per the FWC own website, (https://myfwc.com/conservation/terrestrial/cwa/) the CWA must be supported by upland landowners. Once the quiet title is settled, the FWC will need to determine new boundaries, if any, for the CWA. In the end, we believe the town’s actions will bring negative ramifications to the CWA. Why does this council risk the CWA boundary over a common dune walkover, which helps a neighborhood, that will not be seen by the public anyway? We ask this council to change our application denial.

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