The Light House Island Resort was found in violation of maximum signage area in the Town of Fort Myers Beach Land Development Code at a special magistrate hearing at Town Hall on Wednesday, March 6.
The resort was reported to have three signs out of compliance involving either sign height or set back (its main sign facing the bridge and signage on Third and Fifth streets) and a fourth identification sign -its Tiki Bar sign- that adds to the overall violation of maximum-allotted square footage of 32 square feet for the resort and 32 square feet for the bar.
During his findings report, Special Magistrate Joe Madden agreed that the Town's stated overall sign square footage on the resort property surpasses the maximum allowed by the Town LDC without deviation. The sign set back also needs to be addressed.
"There are four identification signs that exceed the height limitation set forth in the code," Madden said. "The cumulative amount of signage on the site as described by the Town of Fort Myers Beach exceeds the maximum permitted square footage as per the Town code."
Light House officials applied for a sign variance on Dec. 27, 2011. But, due to insufficiencies regarding language and detailed sign schematics for the Commercial Planning Development amendment, the application was sent back and resubmitted four times. In between written correspondences, a meeting was held between Community Development Director Walter Fluegel, Planning Coordinator Josh Overmyer and Attorney Beverly Grady to illustrate the situation.
Overmyer stated the applicant and Town are close to finalizing the application for variance. However, the application needs to be submitted in complete fashion.
"Basically, the reason it was pushed to the code enforcement level was based on an unsatisfactory progress. It's been 15 months," he said. "We need the correct information to be submitted, so that it can go through the process."
The last written correspondence did not have the Tiki Bar sign mentioned on the application.
"If it is a sign that is visible from the right-of-way, it is an identification sign that needs to be added," said Overmyer. "That sign is part of their allotted overall square footage, and they are over their allotment."
If a sufficient application for sign variance were completed within the near future, a hearing to approve or disapprove the sign variance would come in front of the Town Local Planning Agency in April and, most likely, the Town Council after that.
Madden set a compliance date of June 1, 2013, for reasons "to achieve the deviation through a Master Concept Plan process or to remove signs that exceed height and square footage."
Light House Resort officials are to be fined $285 for administrative costs for the hearing. If not in compliance by June 1, a daily fine of $150 per day could be imposed.
Before the hearing, Town Code Enforcement Officer Robert Mercado posted a violation notice on the entrance of the property, located at 1051 Fifth St., and also handed one to a receptionist inside the resort.
Three other cases dismissed or continued
Three other signage cases were to be heard in front of the special magistrate. WINDS at 150 Old San Carlos Blvd. received a continuance due to a schedule conflict with the hearing date by the land use attorney. The case, which deals with commercial use in zoning districts, will be continued on April 3.
McDonalds at 1135 Estero Blvd. was found to be in compliance with nonconforming signs after taking down out-of-compliance signs before the hearing date. The case was withdrawn.
Other property owned by Huntingburg Partners LTD at the same site was also given a continuance to April 3, due to an ethical reason. Special Magistrate Joe Madden could not hear the case due to his involvement with a potential transaction at that property. Another special magistrate will be assigned next month for that hearing case.