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Town Council candidate question of the week

February 26, 2020
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Fort Myers Beach voters will fill three town council seats on Tuesday, March 17. Seven candidates are seeking three available seats on the five-member elected board. The top three vote getters will fill seats to be vacated by Mayor Anita Cereceda and Councilmember Joanne Shamp, who are not running, as well as the seat currently held by Councilmember Butcher, who is seeking re-election. Voters will also decide whether the terms should be three-year terms or four-year terms. In addition, voters will be asked to decide if the town should change its elections from March to November, which would make these seats approximately eight months longer than a normal term.

Q: Do you believe that the town council made the right decision in granting deviations to town zoning for TPI and its Margaritaville project? Will the town be able to adequately absorb the impact of this development as well as a related TPI hotel and residential project that has been proposed? What should the next town council be ready to do in regards to Margaritaville and TPI's next development?

Dan Allers

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I strongly believe that the council made the right decision in granting deviations for the TPI development. From initial concept to the final CPD the developer worked with the community at large, town staff and council to arrive at a plan that best conformed to the requirements and concerns of our community. This was not an overnight process. The reality is the town is growing and new investments are being made across the island and TPI is aligned with those investments. The next council has to analyze these investments, review our codes and ensure that any future investments align with the direction that is best for the town, its residents and visitors.

Jim Atterholt

I strongly support the town council's unanimous 5-0 vote in 2018 to move forward with the TPI/Margaritaville project. Significant compromises were made by all sides and it is time to work together as a community and move forward. As we talk about density, it is important to remember that the area where the new development is to be built used to contain 240 hotel rooms before Hurricane Charlie severely damaged the area in 2004. The developer for TPI has bought land two miles inland to help house the new workforce and will provide 75 additional parking spaces to workers and guests of the hotel. In addition, a shuttle will be provided to take folks back and forth to the island.

Robert "Bob" Burandt

My response to this question will be the same for all questions regarding what past Town councilmembers have done, which is, that I believe they did what they did for the benefit of the town and would prefer to look forward not backwards. As to whether or not the town's infrastructure can accommodate this new development is a question for the engineers and not the lawyers. The next steps for Town Council will depend on how the appeal is resolved. Let's move forward together for the benefit of the Town.

Bruce Butcher (Incumbent)

Yes. Yes. The development at Pine Ridge does not require anything from our council.

It would be great if the Florida Department of Transportation would allow a direct trolley to the beach on San Carlos Boulevard. If such a lane existed more parking would need to be available in the Summerlin, San Carlos area to bring people and not cars to the beach.

Forrest Critser

Be it right or wrong I do not believe it is my place to pass judgement on a previous council's legislation.

The next council should be tasked with assuring that the project is completed in accordance with the governing rules and regulations and the agreement passed by the previous council; no more; no less.

The town has agreed to the challenge and should step up to the plate and move forward to the enrichment and betterment of Ft Myers Beach. Regarding the hotel and residential project; they are "off island" and town has no jurisdiction on San Carlos Island.

David Drumm

We have only opened the door for our new TPI neighbor. It will be on TPI's shoulders to burden the load of becoming a welcome member of our community. In future years I hope we can all look back and think Margaritaville has become a partner, employer and friend to Fort Myers Beach. We are not there yet. Their Pine Ridge project is underway now and the residential project is not. A place for employees and others to reside is a vital part of the TPI proposal. TPI says they are hoping for corporate partners. Well hope is not a plan!

I fully support their successes and demand our new council members help TPI complete their 250 bed project without climbing into bed with them.

Billy Veach

A diverse previous council voted unanimously on the compromise I support what was approved and I will not try to reverse their decision. If elected, I will support getting the compromise plan completed and try to ensure that it delivers on the promise of downtown revitalization.



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