Town Rolls Back Window Tint

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Condo owners on Fort Myers Beach are breathing a sigh of relief today after the town council finally rolled back its strict window tint ordinance. New and replacement windows will now be required to have a 45% inside-to-outside transmission. The 2-year old scrapped ordinance had been 15%.

The second public hearing was delayed twice before finally taking place Monday. The first delay was caused by the public hearing not being properly advertised. The second delay was to accommodate councilman Bill Veach who was out sick two weeks ago and wanted to add an amendment to the ordinance.

Veach’s amendment will require adequate window coverings (ie: blinds) be installed before a final permit is approved. The final vote to roll back the tint was 3-2 with both Veach and Dan Allers voting against.

Allers voted against the rollback because he didn’t believe the town should be in the interior design business. “I don’t think it’s the job of the government to approve someone’s blinds.” Allers wanted the rollback to be clean, without the amendment.

Veach voted against the rollback, despite his amendment being attached. Veach wanted the ordinance to stay at 15%. He told Beach Talk Radio News after the meeting that, “We are having a horrible season for disorientations. Mostly from condos.”

The town has already recorded 7 turtle disorientations, 2 more than all of last season. The most recent disorientation was at The Pink Shell Resort, not a condo.

Turtle Time Executive Director Eve Haverfield criticized the town council for rolling back the ordinance. “The Council’s decision to go back to the 45% inside-to-outside transmission coupled with adding window covering, in my opinion, is short-sighted and unfortunate. Unless the window treatments are electronic and are on a set timer, the problem with interior lighting is not solved. People fail to close their drapes (shutters, etc.,) all the time. Many condo units and private homes already have ‘window coverings’ that are not being closed. And so, instead of setting a standard of excellence, the Town of Fort Myers Beach’s marine turtle conservation ethic regresses. Awaiting the final results of the FWC study of other tints that effectively block lights that disorient endangered sea turtles would have been prudent.”

John King, who’s running for town council, has been pushing for the rollback. He was pleased with what took place Monday. “I want to say it’s a win with the rollback to the state guidelines of 45% or less window tinting, but it was thoroughly confusing. It appears that Councilman Veach was merely attempting to derail the process by adding window coverings to the ordinance, especially since he ended up voting against his amendment. The main point is the rollback to state guidelines prevailed and long put off replacement projects can now move forward. Thanks to the glass industry representatives who continually showed up and provided guidance during this process. Thanks to the condo associations who spoke out, and thanks to Dave Nusbaum for his leadership in getting this accomplished.”

Island Winds President Dave Nusbaum: “The rollback would not have been accomplished without the expert testimony from the fenestration and glazing glass representatives, coupled with the direct input from over 15 condominium boards located across our island. FWC is currently working with the glass industry, conducting scientific studies, to determine a suitable tint for windows facing the beach. When those studies are published, any resulting changes could be incorporated into our existing ordinance. Until then, the town has rightly returned to Florida’s recommended model ordinance as issued by FDEP.”

Condo owners had been working hard to get the 2-year old ordinance changed after they found out the council voted in the darker window requirement on all new and replacement windows. Several condo association’s were in the middle of major replacement projects when they were told they needed the 15% windows. They argued that the windows are more costly, harder to find and turn their condos into a dark dungeon during the day.

The state requirement for the window transmittance is 45%. The town council voted in 15% as another tool to try to help prevent turtle hatchling disorientations. Lights left on inside condos, hotels, businesses and homes on the beach continue to be a big challenge for the town staff to keep up with. All lights that are not turtle compliant must be turned off at night during turtle season. Many times, despite being educated on turning lights off, vacationers either forget or ignore the rules.

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