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COP open letter to Town Council

May 9, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

The Town somehow has set up a committee to examine the question of beach, public alcohol and sales expansion. Three appointed members are business associates of beach, alcohol-selling businesses, having vested interests in expanding their income. How can these members not have a conflict of interest?

Council has options to correct this. Among them are asking those with conflicts of interest to resign, Or Council could make these committee members non-voting. Their views can be heard, but they cannot vote on anything the committee approves for recommendations to Council.

Committee member conflicts of interest have happened before. Years ago, I sent a public letter to the Mayor about a Town committee member's business conflict of interest, essentially the same as today's problem. In time, that committee member resigned. A formal conflict of interest complaint was filed with the state of Florida. The state concurred and sanctioned! The saga made the local press

Council also needs to re-look at the committee's four business majority representing 16 properties versus the three town resident members, representing 6,900 town residents. How come?

For some time, Council has struggled to make decisions on the COP proposed ordinance. Simply put, Council needs individual business property data showing: 1) Current alcohol selling measured areas; 2) The past beach intrusions both in depth and measured area; and 3) The ordinance's proposed expansion areas measured for each property.

Recently, the LPA Chairperson sent to Council her excellent, independent research report with data clarifying the extent of the previous business beach intrusion problems. This report shows: 1) Fewer business intrusions into the Environmentally Critical zone than reported; 2) For the old intrusions, much less depth & area of intrusion than feared.

The LPA Chairperson's report now gives a data supported basis tor: 1) Limiting COP expansion to only the downtown zone; and 2) Making any COP changes there quite limited. The report also provides a data basis for considering all business issues in the EC areas..

A final thought. Varying property rules have been highlighted as a problem. The proposed rules are incomplete. Further, any new rules need to be made unchangeable in some fashion. Otherwise, the underlying legal structure can allow many future different property rules, like in the past.

Frank Schilling

Fort Myers Beach



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