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1 week ago, 07/17/2014 at 3:25pm Delete

All About The Money

Our Town has been awash in the elevated pool controversy for well over a year now. There have been letters and opinion pieces in this newspaper, phone calls, emails and letters to Town officials. Town Council meetings have given hours of public comment time to residents to voice their opinions and concerns. The Local Planning Agency has weighed in and produced an elevated pool policy. False rumors of bribery led to our Town spending taxpayer money to investigate the rumored accusation. The Town lost several professional staff members, including a Town Manager, Director of Community Development and a Zoning Coordinator during this year of controversy.

All over a pool built too close to a seawall with a valid permit approved by staff after consultation with the Town’s attorney determined that there was nothing in the Land Development Code that prohibited it. Our LDC was too murky to prohibit it outright. Council actions since have set a precedent on how they interpret the LDC. And they’ve taken initial steps to begin to clear up the murkiness that haunts our LDC. But what is clear now, was not when permits were issued. I know not everyone agrees on that issue and that’s fine.

What’s not so fine is how a small group of residents have essentially taken up residence in Town Hall, repetitively demanding answers and private meetings, taking untold hours of staff time and making threats of legal action if they don’t get their way. That way being the tearing down of the elevated pool.

But when that was agreed upon in a settlement agreement with the developer, that wasn’t enough. The barrage of demands continued. It seemed as though nothing would satisfy the neighbors, not even the tearing down of the pool.

And then came the first whiff of what at least one resident wanted. Cash. Instead of paying the plaintiffs the $250,000, he would like the Town to pay him and a few neighbors. Wow.

So their loss of view, their concern about LDC variances and setbacks, the angst of the battle to preserve their quality of life -- all of it could be washed away with a little cash.

And if the Town and developer won’t agree to hand over the cash, then the neighbors will sue.
 
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Issue-701's Top Story 1 week ago, 07/17/2014 at 3:31pm

AlgenolAlgenol - Fuel From the Sun

The last time we visited Algenol at their ribbon cutting ceremony in October of 2010, the facility consisted of three buildings containing their labs and research and development center. Today, the company's location off of Alico Road boasts six buildings with more than 90,000 square feet housing 127 employees, and stands poised to move into commercial development of its revolutionary biofuel - meaning that Floridians may be able to fill up their vehicles with algae-based gasoline by early 2016. This represents the fulfillment of a dream by visionary CEO Paul Woods, who plans to announce the location of Algenol's 452-job manufacturing plant by the end of 2014. The bad news for Lee County, however, is that Woods may build that plant somewhere else in south Florida after being wrongfully accused earlier this year of breaking his contract with the Lee County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC).
Pool Payoff 1 week ago, 07/17/2014 at 3:59pm
Above Ground PoolPrimo Resident
Proposes Pool Payoff

A Primo Drive resident who has told Town officials that he is considering legal action against the Town for the loss of his view, property value and privacy as a result of the home and elevated pool deck at 301 Palermo Drive switched gears just as the issue was about to be laid to rest in a planned Thursday evening Town Council meeting.

Lee County Parks 1 week ago, 07/17/2014 at 3:54pm

Free AdmissionParking Fees Waived at
County Parks Next Weekend

Plan now for some time in Lee County parks later this month. Lee County commissioners have designated Saturday, July 26,and Sunday, July 27, as dates during which parking fees will be waived at Lee County managed boat ramps and regional parks, and admission will be waived at the county’s swimming pools in recognition of National Park and Recreation Month.

Sites on or near Fort Myers Beachwhere the parking fees will be waived areBowditch Point, Lynn Hall Park, Bonita Beachand Bunche Beach.

Elevated Pool Controversy6 days ago, 07/18/2014 at 2:57pm

Settlement EndsControversy Ends With a Divided Vote

The elevated pool controversy appeared to finally come to a close Thursday night when the Town Council voted 3-2 to accept a slightly revised settlement agreement between the Town and Developer Joe Orlandini - where he will take down the elevated pool already constructed at 301 Palermo and agree not to build any accessory structure within 25 feet of a seawall if the height of that structure exceeds 42 inches - in return for a payment from the Town of $250,000. Council had already accepted most of the agreement at a special meeting on June 20th, but asked staff to make a few adjustments. That work was completed earlier this week, so Vice-Mayor Dan Andre - acting in Mayor Anita Cereceda's stead as she is out of the country - called the meeting so that Council could finally put the matter to rest.

Save A Turtle3 weeks ago, 07/08/2014 at 7:16pm

Turtle HatchlingsTurn Off a Light and Save a Turtle

Town Environmental Science Coordinator Keith Laakkonen is worried. Turtle season on our island officially began May 1st, so the first nests should be hatching any time now since the gestation period is normally between 55 and 65 days. The problem is - and what's got Laakkonen and his staff working after hours (note, Town employees are paid a salary so they do not receive overtime) - is that some beachfront property owners are still not either shielding their lights or switching to turtle-friendly lighting, and he fears this will result in the death of many baby turtles.

 
 

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Dogs having fun at the dog beach in Fort Myers Beach.
This is a great dog beach, with lots of sand for dogs to run on. The water is shallow, gradually deepening and opening up to the Gulf of Mexico. Video courtesy of Debbie Bates.
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