Town To Forgive Over $2 Million in Persaud Fines

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This past August we reported that Fort Myers Beach property owner Terry Persaud had racked up $2.7 million in fines from code violations and the town was pursuing foreclosing on some of his property due to his lack of compliance. That all changed Monday morning.

On Monday, the Town Council offered Persaud a sweetheart deal, dropping the total fine he needs to pay from $2.7 million to $250,000 and a $500,000 “good faith” payment that Persaud will get back if he stays in compliance. The reason given by the town attorney for dropping the fines by so much was “they would be challenged,” she said. That certainly begs the question; are all town code violation fines now in question? Councilman John King asked the town attorney if the fines were illegally levied. She said, “I don’t know that.”

Much of Persaud’s battle with the town began with previous town council’s who consistently asked him not to rent beach chairs behind his restaurant, and, accused him of operating an illegal parking lot next to the Sunset Grill Restaurant he owned. The previous administration even sent a town employee “undercover” to rent beach chairs from Persaud to prove he was in violation. He rented her the chair.

All along the town has been stating that Persaud’s parking lot has been illegal, that it was only ever supposed to be used for restaurant customer parking. However, it’s always been open to the general beach-going public with rates changing with the seasons.

Fort Myers Beach Operations Manager Frankie Kropacek said Monday that Persaud is now 100 percent in compliance. The town also says the parking lot is no longer illegal and Persaud is allowed to sell those spaces to the general public.

The details of the deal include the $250,000 fine and the return of the $500,000 to Persaud if he stays in compliance for one year. The town will be inspecting Persaud’s properties to make sure he stays in compliance. If he does not, he’ll be issued a courtesy warning notice to fix the violation. If he does not fix the violation, the matter is sent to the town’s Magistrate for a ruling. If the Magistrate rules in the town’s favor, Persaud forfeits the $500,000 to the town.

The town council also wants Persaud to remove this gigantic tree stump that he’s been promising to remove from his property for years. In fact Vice Mayor Jim Atterholt was led to believe by Persaud that the process to remove the stump was already in motion. Yesterday, Persaud changed that story. He said he’s now waiting to rebuild his building before he removes the stump because he needs a DEP permit.

The council would have none of that plan. As part of his settlement agreement, the town council gave Persaud 60 days to apply for the DEP permit and 30 days to remove the stump after receiving the permit. Atterholt said, “That is a monstrous stump right in Times Square. That stump has got to go.”

When Persaud had a chance to speak up about the sweetheart deal the town was offering him, he said, “This has been going on way too long. I have gone above and beyond to create an agreement I don’t agree with.” That didn’t sit well with Mayor Dan Allers who responded, “That was a little concerning. You’ve done this before. For 4-5 years we’ve been dealing with this. It’s been a matter of compliance. It’s the simple things that you agreed to do.”

As a matter of fact there was a list of items that the town had previously required Persaud to take care of to make the former Sunset Grill parking lot a little more respectable looking. Those items are listed below with the town’s added responses (in bold) below each item
Installing a stormwater retention/detention plan.
All parking areas need to show that they will not retain water and have the ability to drain properly, (his does meet that requirement)

Resurface the lot.
The lot was looked at by staff and was deemed good.

Provide a trash receptacle.
There was a trash receptacle at the beach side, and one was also by the Chamber Trailer when I did my inspection.

Add a double-hedge buffer along the street property line.
The landscaping is going to up as the site is developed, he has added a few planters presently.

Add a retractable fence along the seawall.
Any fencing or modification to the sea wall has to be coordinated with DEP and FWC. ( I will keep you updated )

Add 3 native trees along Estero Boulevard.
Please see my response to the hedge question.

Allers also wanted to know from the town attorney what happened if history repeated itself and Persaud fell out of compliance. She said “The $500,000 is given to the town and the settlement agreement would have run it’s course.”

On Monday the Town Council voted unanimously to give Mayor Dan Allers the authority to sign the deal on behalf of the town once the town attorney cleans up some of the language and the stump removal details are added in.

 

18 COMMENTS

  1. Not to argue the noncooperative nature of Mr. Persaud, his professionalism or his non sincerity in complying to the town’s requests and mandates … but looking back in history a couple of issues are perplexing.
    He owned the property and the parking lot. The area desperately needs parking options. Mr. Persaud willingly allowed the lot to be used as a loading zone for Times Square businesses and for the town’s needs. Was it so wrong that he allowed parking there for a fee? Just asking.
    And why was it such a big deal renting beach chairs to Beachgoers?
    2.7 million dollars?! Perhaps there are good reasons for the town’s enthusiastic actions to impose such stiff fines, I am simply asking the question.

  2. Another government failure. Perhaps the other residents should boycott that business and even have protesters outside of his business. I will do my part and boycott them.

    • Pretty arrogant for a public servant John. Some of these folks are your constituents.
      Name calling like that in the private sector gets employees fired. Perhaps that’s what the folks in the town’s public sector should do to you. Your arrogance and intolerance is breathtaking.

    • John: Agree 100%.

      And it’s clear some commenters are utterly unaware of the years of history on this matter, and how the fines got to where they did.

      Differing opinions are one thing, but uninformed “opinions” are laughable.

  3. This will create an I-can-do-what-I-want attitude. Why has he been allowed to be noncompliant for years?! Are laws/codes non binding? I guess us residents shouldn’t worry about getting permits and start doing whatever we want. Wild, wild west here we come!

  4. He’s been a problem since forever .. levy the fines, put a lien on his property and if he doesn’t pay, foreclose on the property and be done with him .. Remember all the “sweetheart” deals are setting president for future noncompliance ..

  5. Ok now the tree stump, Time to clean up Pierside Grill property before someone gets hurt and they sue the property owner and the town for allowing this condition to exist. This area is one of the first places that visitors come to visit.

  6. Sad our governing body is so weak to allow this A-hole to walk all over them! They should have foreclosed!! Get rid of the bum!

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