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Downtown Development
May 3, 2017

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Downtown Development

To the Editor:

Submittal of an application to redevelop downtown Fort Myers Beach is exciting. It should unite rather than divide the community. Details of the TPI application must be reviewed, analyzed and issues resolved. The Comprehensive Plan recognizes that Fort Myers Beach is overbuilt. Policy 4-B-1 states that overbuilding has resulted in congested traffic. Policy 5-A-5 commits the Town to a policy of no net development capacity. The Comp Plan defines and recommends policies for density, intensity, building height, setbacks, flood zone regulations, parking, traffic, health, safety and the environment. It also recognizes that property rights must be protected. The review and approval process is a daunting task. The project must be economically feasible for the developer, but that responsibility does not fall on the Town. Town Council knows that the downtown area needs rejuvenation. All on the island should be treated equally.

Despite comments to the contrary, every member of Town Council has stated that they want to see downtown redeveloped. It is their job to determine consistency with the Town Comprehensive Plan as has been codified by the Land Development Code. These are legal documents that must be considered. The LPA and Town Council will make decisions following public hearings where the applicant, Town staff and public will have testimony. Deviations from Town codes will be considered. A Commercial Planned Development allows for a degree of flexibility to differ from specific code provisions. Any deviation should benefit all who live, work and visit Fort Myers Beach. No deviation may be granted that is inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan. The review process is quasi-judicial and rigorous because the final decision must be legally defensible.

Tom Babcock

Fort Myers Beach

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