On Monday the Town Council started the process of going after 4 Fort Myers Beach property owners that continue to snub their nose at the town, repeatedly violating the town code, and in some cases, profiting from those code violations.
Up until this point the town council has relied on staff to try to work with code violators to get them to come into compliance. If that didn’t work, the violators could argue their case in front of a magistrate. If the magistrate ruled against the violator, the idea would be that the violator would then get into compliance, and maybe go before the full council and ask for a reduced fine.
If the violators ignore the magistrate’s order, fines continue to rack up on a daily basis, and the town would put a lien on the properties in violation. However, there’s nothing else the town could do, unless the properties were sold, or, unless the town council decided to take further action , which cost taxpayer dollars.
Town Manager Roger Hernstadt said Monday that Fort Myers Beach, “has a small and friendly town syndrome.”
The town attorney has presented the town with two options: foreclose on the liens or take the violators to court and ask for injunctive relief.
The council was presented a list of 14 liens on Monday. It’s actually a list of only 4 properties that the town has been battling, in some cases for years. Here are the violators:
80 Ave East has 2 work without a permit violations and an unsafe structure. Fines for these violations have reached over $500,000.
1028 and 1046 Estero Boulevard (Sunset Tropical Grill) has 7 of the 14 listed violations, including renting beach chairs without a permit, operating an unapproved parking lot, a dumpster not screened in and having a portable sign off premises. The town has racked up fines in the hundreds of thousands against the business and it’s increasing by the day.
268/270 Nature View Court is a rental property that the town says completed work without a permit after a fire, work without a permit on the roof and has violated the short-term rental rules on 24 occasions. Short-term rentals cannot be for less than 7 days. That rule was put in place to prevent rental properties in residential neighborhoods from becoming hotels.
Regarding the property on Nature View Court, Mayor Ray Murphy said Monday he would like the town to go after this property first. “They are driving those neighbors crazy by renting for less than 7 days. They are ruining the way of life for people in that neighborhood.” The property is also facing fines in the hundreds of thousands.
The other property on the town’s hit list is 1661 Estero Boulevard, which we’ve written about extensively for operating an unapproved parking lot where Mr. Tequilla is located.
Hernstadt says these properties were put at the top of the list because they are monetizing their non-compliance. “This is different than someone who didn’t cut their grass and we had to cut it and charge them.”
The town council has instructed the town attorney to conduct a title search on each of the properties on its hit list. After that work is done the council will then decide if it makes sense to take further action against these properties.
Here’s the list of liens the town council received Monday: