taking responsibility for the preservation and development of fort myers beach
Voice of Fort Myers Beach says YES to redevelopment and NO to overdevelopment
January 25, 2017
Members of the Voice of Fort Myers Beach, a group of concerned citizens and business owners who advocate for responsible development on Fort Myers Beach, are anxious to see new development at the main entrance to the island. Still, it’s vital that development be built to the size and specifications that maintain the integrity of the island in accordance with the Town’s comprehensive plan.
“The Voice is in favor of new development, but strongly advocates against overdevelopment on the island,” says spokesperson Connie Ramos-Williams. The group remains consistent in its belief that any new development should comply with the well-conceived comprehensive plan that the Town has had in place and enforced for decades.
The comprehensive plan clearly defines the maximum size developers are permitted to build in a given space. TPI Hospitality is requesting a deviation from the comprehensive plan’s land development code (LDC) to obtain additional square footage. If this deviation is approved, the size of the development could double.
The comprehensive plan is in place to protect the island from overdevelopment. The Voice hopes that the excitement and desire to see a facelift at the entrance of the island doesn’t tempt some to rush into accepting the overdevelopment plan with its 290 proposed hotel rooms.
“The decisions made now in regard to the Times Square project are critically important, as it’s likely not the last development project the island will see. Our beaches will continue to attract new developers, so setting clear rules for all to follow is in the best interest of all,” says Doug Speirn owner of Matanzas Inn & Resort.
Overdevelopment will negatively impact traffic, parking, tourism and infrastructure of the island. Density and intensity of any new development matters because space is limited for parking, traffic and beach access on the island. The off-island Park & Ride was built to provide parking for day-to-day users who support small businesses on the island, not to be used as an employee parking lot as specifically planned in the TPI proposal.
“Our hope is that the Town’s new land planner and council will remain cautious and recognize that the size of new development really does matter to the sustainability of the island,” says Robert Boykin, co-owner of the Pink Shell Beach Resort. “Infrastructure on the island has not changed since the creation and adoption of the Town’s comprehensive plan. Density was a concern then and is a concern now.”
The Fort Myers Beach comprehensive plan, as codified by the Land Development Code, recognizes that the Town is already overbuilt. Policy 4-B-1 cites overbuilding as the cause of traffic congestion, something the Town is already infamous for. A no-net development capacity policy is established in Policy 5-A-5. The Voice is concerned about many aspects of development for which the plan defines and recommends policies, including traffic, building height, setbacks, flood zone regulations, parking, density, intensity, health, safety and environmental impacts.
Paul Malbon, owner of Best Western Beach Resort, said, “Voice of Fort Myers Beach feels TPI Hospitality, like any other developer, should respect and build within the guidelines set by the Town's comprehensive plan.”