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There’s always a choice regarding COP

March 6, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

The fundamental character of our beach town is probably more at risk now than ever due to an under the radar term COP (Consumption On Premises). This innocuous sounding term for consumption on premises does little to reveal what's really going on. It's a far cry from simple consumption, and doesn't explain the huge expansion of alcohol sales contemplated on what is now white sand beach. Nor does it explain that some businesses may get to use land that may not even be in their deed, and others that have been confined to pool or deck areas may now be able to spread out all over the beach.

This issue has been working its way around for years and, each step of the way, town council members have had a choice of how to proceed, or not to proceed. Councils before, with few exceptions, have not chosen to expand alcohol sales on the beaches.

Our current council had a choice to reign in special permitting and exceptions for alcohol sales on the beach. It chose to push for a huge expansion instead.

The Local Planning Agency review did not feel expansion of alcohol sales on to the beaches was within our codes. Council's choice was to kick it back with a message to come up with a plan for how to do it. LPA didn't, so Council made the choice to change committee members.

Our Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Codes could be adhered to. Instead council has chosen to rewrite various areas to allow alcohol sale on beaches and has requested a new ordinance be drafted. It features an incredibly huge expansion of beach that can be devoted to alcohol sales.

And, they had a choice to simply deal with consumption, or to expand the issue to include sale and serving. So far, they chose to allow it all.

Council also had a choice to limit changes to the core entertainment district, but instead chose to rewrite codes covering 16 beachfront establishments all the way from Pink Shell to Holiday Inn.

You have a choice, too. But you had better act fast or deal with the extra burdens later.

Your choices to let council know how you think are many. You can simply choose to call town hall at 765-0202, then press 2, and leave a message using the prompts to 120, 121, 122, 123 or 124. It's easy to leave a message. Or you can choose to talk to them.

You can choose to attend coming Town Council Meetings and address this issue, or just say you agree or disagree. There are also two critical hearings on the ordinance and codes coming up that will allow additional public comment. You need to be there. It's your town, and your choice.

Tom Merrill

Fort Myers Beach



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