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Town Council approves Stormwater Facilities Plan

August 24, 2016
Jessica Salmond - News Editor (jsalmond@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

A disorderly meeting ended with a call to remove Robert's Rules of Order from the Fort Myers Beach Town Council's policy. ?

Throughout the meeting, tensions ran high as council members tugged a metaphorical rope over multiple issues on the agenda, with interruptions and quips striking nerves among the board.

"We all need to work on being nicer to each other," said Vice Mayor Summer Stockton.

One of the more contentious items was the passing of the Stormwater Facilities Plan, which was ultimately approved in a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Dennis Boback and Council Member Tracey Gore dissenting.

The plan is a comprehensive conceptual plan that addresses storm water mitigation for issues island-wide, both current problems and futures ones, and will determine the most cost effective and environmentally friendly methods to address each issue. When the town incorporated, it inherited Lee County's infrastructure, which is not adequate to handle drainage or flooding.

The plan will identify, street by street, the highest priority projects that can be done ahead of the construction within Lee County's Estero Boulevard storm water project.

Fact Box

Council re-cap

Floodplain regulations: approved 5-0, adopting federal language standards for floodplain regulations, with agreement to meet with the Local Planning Agency to identify any areas that can be addressed at a later time. Adoption of the same language can help the town stay on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's priority list and possibly improve its rating from a 7 to 6.

"This issue is of paramount concern to the LPA and the community - how we continue to protect out structures," said LPA vice-chair Joanne Shamp.

Special events: approved 3-2, an ordinance revising town policy on the application process for special events held in the town that impact the public. Tracey Gore amended the ordinance to strike the ability for reoccurring events, once initially approved by council, to be subsequently approved administratively by the town manager and added back a line which allows owners of affected property to submit a letter of objection to the event. The ordinance was passed with Anita Cereceda and Rexann Hosafros dissenting.

"I don't understand the problem of spending 20 minutes at a council meeting on this," Summer Stockton said.

Surplus property: approved 5-0, consent agenda, council authorized staff to list more than 30 items as surplus town property and put them up for auction in an attempt to get revenue from unneeded or outdated items such as bikes, gym equipment and office supplies. A link to the items will be put on the town's website when they are up for auction; anyone can bid on them.

"The uncertainty of the potential magnitude of this is fearful for some people," said Council Member Anita Cereceda. "It's a potential roadmap, but not one we're bound to construct... We would talk about each point along the way and what the costs are."

The town will be eligible for grants and a State Revolving Loan Fund with the approval of the all-inclusive program. The plan is non-binding, meaning that while projects may be suggested in the plan the town is not obligated to approve them, The town is paying the consultant, Tetra Tech, $50,000 for its development.

Council voted approval, and the plan can be altered and specified at later dates. There is no official cost related to any project since they have to be developed.

Other councilmembers expressed displeasure that the plan doesn't contain many specific dollar amounts or projects, especially after the town went into debt when it built the North Estero Boulevard and Basin Based stormwater projects. Gore said she preferred to continue going project-by-project; however, Tetra Tech representative Danny Nelson said not adopting the plan would end up costing the town more money since projects would not be done in conjunction with the county, and that it would probably delay many projects from being started.

"The middle of the island deserves as good as the north end," Council Member Rexann Hosafros said.

Nelson gave the council two options for the program during its Monday, August 22 meeting: no action and take action.

No action would lead the town to continue operating, maintaining and repairing the existing system, which Tetra Tech has said is incomplete and beginning to age. Adopting the program would allow planning for town-wide upgrades, water quality treatment additions. Without the program, too, Nelson outlined that the county would probably request funding for town-owned streets that flow into its Estero Boulevard storm water project.

With the council's approval, Town Manager Jim Steele said he would also contact the county to set up an interlocal agreement that clarified a cost-sharing between the two governments for their storm water projects.

Based on public comment from several meetings, Cereceda voted approval with an amendment that Tetra Tech would more clearly state in its executive summary of the project that the Bay Beach community is excluded from the project as it has a private storm water management system that does not connect to the town's infrastructure and is therefore exempt.

"Bay Beach needs to know tonight from this council something solid so they can stop coming to this," Hosafros said.

 
 

 

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