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Hearing on Bay Harbour concludes

September 12, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

It took three days spread out over more than a month, but the hearing examiner finally hit the gavel on the proposed Bay Harbour development Monday.

And while many are still opposed to the project, the wave seems to be turning, with some a little less adamant as before.

Developers of the controversial Bay Harbour Marina Village showed the hearing examiner street level renderings of the project slated for Main and Oak streets that she asked for following two days of testimony in August.

Hearing Examiner Donna Marie Collins had continued the case to Monday so she could get a street-level rendering of the project, which Dave Depew gave in stunning detail in a 10-minute video which also included aerial and treetop views of the proposed development.

"Redevelopment is huge on the island. Pressures come with it and concern how it will look," Depew said as he showed the video. "We took those and showed the results of those redevelopment impacts. You will miss stuff if you don't pay attention."

"This project is unique but consistent. You have to weigh everything. We have provided testimony we are compatible with Lee Plan and land development code," said Jack Mayher, owner and developer of the project. "We are not big building on the street, we're trying to blend it in. We will have a safe, sound community."

Mayher seeks to put in 113 residential units, a 500-car garage, a marina, other commercial space and open-to-the-public civic space, such as tennis and pickleball courts, on a 7.47-acre property. The main condominium tour will be 145 feet in height, with a rooftop restaurant. The development will take both a rezoning request and a comprehensive plan amendment to be approved. The comprehensive plan amendment was sent to the state by the Lee County Board of Commissioners in May.

A slightly different variation of the project already faced the Hearing Examiner once, and was shot down in 2016.

Mayher said he thought the process went fine.

"The presentation went well, we worked diligently with the Beach Civic Association. I think we ended up with a much better plan than we originally had," Mayher said. "We've been turning people around. There have been more people speaking in favor of our project than against it."

Many hope the project will be shot down again, although the tone has softened with some, even if they are tepid about the project.

"He's wearing me down slowly but surely. I'm not as adamantly against it," said Gayle Mason. "My initial reaction is that it's too big for the area and I don't use EbbTide as a goal because I haven't seen it yet. It's also too high."

Joanne Semmer said her mind hasn't changed one bit. She is still very much against the project.

"I still think it's way out of character and too intense. 113 units will get us a 13 percent increase on San Carlos Island. The car traffic alone will be tremendous," Semmer said. "We're in support of the marina, but the high rise I can't agree with."

If the HEX approves the project, it will go to the Board of County Commissioners for final approval. Only those who spoke at the HEX will be allowed to speak at the BOCC meeting.



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