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Whose voice is government listening to?

September 12, 2018
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

Recent events have made further question "Why have laws if you allow developers to break them?" I continue to be frustrated again and again by the action of the County regarding the proposed Bay Harbour Marina Village project on San Carlos Island. After attending the Zoning Hearing on Aug. 15 and 16, I don't understand how the county staff continues to recommend this project when most San Carlos Island residents, property owners and business owners are not in favor. Whose voice is the government listening to?

Past workshops, meetings and hearings all have had an overwhelming show of opposition regarding this project. Over 90 percent of the people who attend the community workshop earlier this year were opposed to this project. Hundreds of letters of opposition for this project have been submitted at hearings but to what effect will these letters have? Not every person has the opportunity or luxury to come and attend the meetings in person. Once again, money, time and resources on both sides are being wasted for what reason?

The purpose of Zoning is to prevent new development from interfering with existing uses and/or to preserve the "character" of a community. San Carlos Island has been a fishing village for over 100 years. With their current application, developers of the proposed Bay Harbour Marina Village Project are asking the County to disregard the "current character" of the community and allow them to build whatever they see fit, however out of place it is. If they can build whatever they see fit, why have rules and regulations in the first place?

Looking at the plans for this project, even after they have been revised still shows the same problems as the original project. This project is too big, too ugly and too intense for San Carlos Island. The Bay Harbour Marina Village Project is surrounded by commercial and industrial businesses. Currently there are over 140 businesses doing business on San Carlos Island. Each one of these businesses has employees and pays taxes. Matanzas is a designated federal channel; the only one between Key West and Tampa. Matanzas Harbour is the only remaining major seaport designated by the Lee Plan, it is part of the future of San Carlos Island, and should not be destroyed. The Island has no desire to be like Miami Beach, which seems to be the staff's vision. Residents, business owners and property owners overwhelmingly like the community as it is.

Even the current revised plans for the project still fails to address the problems that were identified in the previous Hearing Examiners Report and were the reasons why Hearing Examiner Bellflower recommended DENIAL. Hearing Examiner Bellflower cited numerous reasons such as the density is not consistent, maximum allowances are sought when the minimum requirements have not been met, and the applicant's request is incompatible with and negatively affects the character of the surrounding area. The revised application still asks for too much density, intensity and that heights are too high and out of character for the neighborhood; no realistic solutions regarding increased traffic concerns in an already overburdened area; doesn't provide for enough open or green space, no setbacks from the canal or county roads; and no realistic water retention solutions.

It is my sincere hope that the new Hearing Examiner (Hearing Examiner Bellflower retired in June) will take all the information into account and see that this project is just not the correct fit for our Island and that the Rezoning designation should not be allowed, and Applicant's Request be denied. It is time to make the developers follow the rules!

Bill Semmer

Fort Myers Beach



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