While the Sanibel City Council has been revisiting its COVID-19 emergency declarations every Tuesday since they were first adopted, the Fort Myers Beach town council has not revisited their entire emergency declaration since approved in March of 2020. That’s about to change over concerns that certain community events are being approved while others have been denied.
Councilman Dan Allers finally brought up the issue earlier this week at a town council meeting. “There’s a perception out there that the special exception for events is not being followed completely or we’re picking and choosing as to when it’s followed, whether that’s true or not I don’t know.”
Allers pointed out that page 2, section B of the March 2020 declaration states: “All town special events are postponed, cancelled, closed or suspended.” Attorney John Herin agreed. “It has not been repealed by this town council. We can place it on the next week’s agenda for council discussion and action.”
Allers said there’s a perception in the community that some events are getting approved while others are not. Town Manager Roger Hernstadt admitted that was the case. “We have issued a special event permit for someone having a 5 person wedding on the beach.”
Despite what Hernstadt told the council, those were not the only permits approved. A permit for the Christmas Tree Auction at the Woman’s Club was approved as well as a permit for a Farmer’s Market at a local church.
The Farmers Market permit was approved because the request was made directly to the council, according to the Vice Mayor.
Do all local organizations know they can go before the council to state their case once the town staff issues a denial?
Allers chimed in, “Does it need to be that difficult, that entailed. Either you allow them or you don’t.”
The council is expected to discuss the issue at its next meeting.