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
This has nothing to do with beach erosion or health and safety issues, but control and ownership of the beach by the town so they can gain control and funding for building and maintaining a growing environmental department for job security and pensions for those that work for the town, with absolutely NO benefits to the beachfront owners. The Town wants the property rights through easements rather than a license that is revocable by the beachfront owners to be used by the public and for the property owners to pay all the taxes and be responsible for all the maintenance and unforeseen problems with flooding, overgrowth, unwanted rats, snakes and mosquitoes and other pests and garbage, not to mention view scape and foreign sand that’s much heavier and thinker making it more difficult to walk though especially for handicapped folks. The state allows the beachfront property owner to remove sea oats or any other invasive plants on their property but the town made an illegal unconstitutional ordinance more restrictive along with penalties then the State of Florida denying you the state right, so they can fine you on your own property without due process under the guise that the damage was irreparable and irreversible in nature carrying penalties of $1,000 per incident, $250 a day until you come under compliance plus a 5-year restoration program at your expense. Why should the Town pass laws tougher then Florida States without going through the same rigorist committees and hearing, rather than 3-people on council deciding? In an article from 2012, The News press.com publication where the Town was again trying to obtain these ownership rights for the same false narrative of beach erosion and nourishment;
The five-member council said it will have all of its questions answered and wants to hear from residents at the meeting before sending its recommendation to the Lee County Board of Commissioners, a partner in the project.
“I think there’s been years of discussion,” said Councilwoman Jo List. “It’s down to us … to decide yes or no.”
Beach restoration was initially to add more than 100 feet of sand to the northern half of the island. The project stalled, however, after town leaders questioned the project’s scope and cost. The town conducted its own study and learned that the erosion on Estero Island was not as bad as assumed and that less sand was needed to restore the beach. One of the questions the Beach council needs answers to is whether sand dunes and vegetation are necessary. The county’s growth plan says that it is, but many residents on the island are against the vegetation for fear that they will grow out of control and, because they are protected, could limit the free space on the shore.
Now the new scare tactic is to tell us that it’s for our health and safety and that a berm system is necessary for our protection, which is another false narrative and will do more damage to the beach then Hurricane Ian. The Town wants your property rights for the public and the Town’s benefit at the expense of the beachfront property owners. Most of this sand will be replaced by nature through summer winds and tropical storms. I have lived on this beach for 35 years and have seen nothing but this beach growing in size and from artificial renourisment just off the shoreline that has added over 400 feet of sand that is inconsistent then the natural beach sand that has accreted naturally over 100’s of years. Don’t be deceived by their lies, they own nothing and are giving up nothing, this is for the Towns own job security and future management with the promises of more funding and tax payers $$$. The real question and outrage should be towards our town’s so called leaders that are wasting tax payers money and time on this unnecessary beach and berm catastrophe and focus on the rebuilding and cleaning up the damage to our island, it seems their focus is on turtle lights and unnecessary beach and berm debacle and the thief of beachfront property rights.
All that being said, one can always petition the residents for a vote to change the town laws. Always remember…any elected Florida representative can be recalled after they have served only 1/4 of their full term.
Clarification of what I said earlier:
Obviously the town is talking about an easement to cross private property with equipment to rebuild the beach in front of the homes. The town promises to surrender the easements once the job is done, a promise many beachfront property owners distrussed during another rebuild attempt earlier in this century, hesitant to encumber their land with government easements and may well continue to resist in this later request.
My target was the replenishing of private property washed away by hurricanes paid for by the public. Beachfront property replaced with public funds all becomes public property. That’s the risk people building or buying on a vulnerable shoreline must accept. When their backyards are washed away they are responsible for the cost of replacing it not the rest of us.
Afraid I confused the construction quipment access easement with the easement the newly replenished sand the government seems to insist on gifting the private property owners who lose their land to storm erosion.
My bad. Poorly put.
I will comment with a question. Has there ever been a time, throughout history, that any level of government can be trusted?
Be very careful.
Opening pandora’s box.
The state for decades has assured the public that all rebuilt beach created with taxpayer funds belongs to the public, open to public traverse. Public funds can not be used to improve private property and that includes homes along a shoreline. And why should it. The risk of owning property
on a shoreline vulnerable to storms and erosion belongs to the land owner not the public. Gifting a private, arbitrary and impermanent easement across publicly financed and owned lands will continue a troubling current trend of shutting off bathing beaches to the public.
All of that new sand is supposed to belongs to the public because the public paid for it.
Dunes need rebuilt, fenced off and a massive seawall constructed. That sand is going to go bye bye in the next storm.