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'Elevated pool' mediation

July 23, 2014
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

Is it finally over? Mediation of a lawsuit requires no admission of wrong doing. However, payment from one party to another is an admission of greater fault. That describes the 'elevated pool' debacle. The issue involved compliance to Town building codes. Despite comments to the contrary, there is no problem with the Land Development Code. Contractors typically try to get more than what is allowed. Town staff normally informs them they must go through a variance process. For reasons we will never know, that did not happen with the elevated pool setback issue. The LDC clearly states that Town Council, not staff, provides LDC interpretation. The contractor moved forward thinking he had gotten what he wanted. Because of complaints, Town Council provided oversight, but by then the damage was done. The previous Town manager, attorney and some staff failed to oversee LDC requirements and became casualties. Without concerned neighbors this mistake would have continued and become a precedent for all future contractors.

The whole Town was impacted, not just one neighborhood. To accuse concerned citizens of only being interested in money is an undeserved slap in the face. The issue is about money, but not to the neighbors' benefit. The builder was trying to maximize his profit and he did not need any help from the Town. However, he had every right to sue the Town because mistakes cost him money. Who knows whether $250,000 was an appropriate payment for the Town's mistakes? Were the neighbors treated fairly in this settlement?

No one should be happy after mediation. The disruption and embarrassment to the Town caused by this litigation will have value if it strengthens the integrity of our LDC. Congratulations to those who cared enough to get involved.

Tom Babcock

Fort Myers Beach



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