The major roadblock the Fort Myers Beach Town Council was having getting residents to sign easements to renourish the beach was that property owners were concerned that by signing they would give up their property rights because the new sand is taxpayer funded. The town believes it has solved that issue.
The town is in a race against time to get an emergency berm built. The emergency berm will replace some of the sand lost during Hurricane Ian. It will provide minimal protection if a major storm came through, however, it will be 100 percent funded by FEMA and the State of Florida. The catch is the project needs to be started 6 months or less after the storm. That’s why the town needs property owners to sign the easements sooner rather than later.
Earlier this week Chadd Chustz, the Town’s Environmental Projects Manager, said only 50-60 of the 384 easements had been signed. The town is hoping the new language will increase that number substantially.
The easement document for beachfront property owners to sign to receive sand from the beach recovery projects following Hurricane Ian has been updated Town Attorney John Herin. A town press release stated that the update to the easement “makes it clear that there are no third party beneficiaries and nothing prohibits the upland owner from using their property in any way as long as such use is consistent with the easement and complies with federal, state, county, and Town of Fort Myers Beach law. It also clearly states that all risks associated with the use of the easement is on the Town, not on the property owner.”
Herin wants that legal language to put residents at ease that they will not lose their property rights because the 90,000 yards of sand being trucked in is being paid for by taxpayer funds. In other words, he’s telling residents just because you’re getting publicly funded sand the public will not be able to walk through your property.
If a property owner signed the previous easement, they are not required to sign a new easement. But if the property owner prefers the new language, they are welcome to sign the updated easement agreement to replace the previous one.
The easement document and instructions as well as additional information about the Town’s beach recovery projects can be found at www.fmbgov.com/beach.
Questions can be sent by email to Chadd Chustz, the Town’s Environmental Projects Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org