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Palermo settlement case comes to a close

July 18, 2014
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

A building dispute relating to permitted building development setbacks and heights at five properties on Palermo Circle has reached closure.

The Fort Myers Beach Town Council approved 3-2 the second draft settlement document in a case between developer Joe Orlandini and the Town of Fort Myers Beach. The final action, which includes proper signatures and clarifications/modifications, took place during a second special meeting Thursday evening.

Questions on the settlement plans sprung after the first special meeting caused "misunderstanding" on Friday, June 20.

The main focus of the legal agreement centered on permitting of a principal structure (house) and accessory structure (elevated pool) at 301 Palermo and a "view corridor" issue that angered neighbors -particularly the dimensions of the new proposed balcony lining up with the upper balcony that currently existed. Town Attorney Derek Rooney stated the new plans show the second floor balcony will be six feet wide on the canal side and eight feet wide on the bay side, while the upper balcony will be five feet wide all around.

Vice Mayor Dan Andre and Councilman Alan Mandel both called the agreement a "compromise" and approved the settlement, while Councilwoman Rexanne Hosafros, the third to approve, did not offer comment. Mayor Anita Cereceda, who was allowed to attend by way of "skyping" from Spain, and Councilwoman Summer Stockton dissented.

"As far as precedents go, this was considered a mistake of law," said Andre, who ran the meeting in the mayor's physical absence. "The definition of compromise, according to Webster's New World Dictionary, is a settlement in which each side gives up some demands or makes concessions."

While Rooney called the balcony plans a misunderstanding, Orlandini, after the meeting was over, said there was a "miscommunication" between Cereceda and him during a verbal exchange at the first meeting. He stated he was checking his cell phone at the time Cereceda asked him about both balcony dimensions being the same size and he misspoke and said 'yes' although he did not actually know the full extent of the question.

Conditions of the settlement include the Town paying the plaintiffs $250,000, which records say will help pay for the demolition of the currently existing deck at 301 Palermo to aid in resolving the "view corridor" issue. It essentially removes the "stop work" order in effect to allow the completion of the home under construction, including all variations. The payment will also "constitute settlement of and full payment for all plaintiffs' damages, attorneys' fees or costs against the Town," the records say.

Conditions also allows properties at 221, 263, 455 and 551 Palermo to be entitled to the construction of a single-family home and accessory structures, but they must be constructed with at least a 25-foot setback and to a height less than 42 inches.



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