To the editor:
Decisions made at the upcoming Town Council meeting on Jan. 6 can have serious impact on canal-side home dwellers.
The debate over elevated pools has escalated to the uncovering of deficiencies in the wording of the current land development code. Some say the code is ambiguous and others say crystal clear. Depending upon the interpretation, the code allows the building of monster homes that gobble up the traditional setback area of 25 feet from the seawall. Structures permitted on that setback area can literally "box in" neighbors.
The Council is facing an appeal to override its own moratorium and to issue permits for swimming pools to be contained within elevated structures constructed in close proximity to the canal seawall. The moratorium had been set to allow the Council sufficient time to resolve the conflict over elevated pools.
Walter Fluegel, Community Development Director, has warned Council members of the pending problem and has requested the Council to either amend the existing code or clarify the town's interpretation of the code.
According to Fluegel, the current code allows an add-on structure to be erected as close as 5 feet from the seawall when that structure is separated by as little as one half inch from the primary structure. Fruegel's hands are tied as he can only follow his interpretation of the code. The problem now lies in the hands of the Council.
Issuing variances at this time to a developer/builder who has gambled on the ambiguity of the code will only worsen the problem. Sympathy for investors who may suffer a loss from delayed projects that are underway should play no part in the Council's decisions. Rewarding such a gamble would set a precedent and encourage an undesirable trend.
It has been suggested that the town could be sued for denying the variances and conversely could be sued for awarding them. If that is the case, I prefer we be sued for doing the right thing for all the affected townspeople rather than for doing the wrong thing.
Townspeople can greatly assist Council members in making prudent decisions by presenting their own opinions on Monday, Jan. 6. The Town Council meeting convenes at 9 a.m. The Town Council workshop meeting, which sets the stage for the next Town Council meeting, convenes at 2 p.m. Both meetings, under Florida Sunshine Law, welcome public input.
Resident and property owner
Fort Myers Beach