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New lawsuit filed against Fort Myers Beach over Margaritaville

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Jul 9, 2020

Ralf Brookes, attorney for Christine Patton, announced that a new lawsuit has been filed in circuit court today against the Town of Fort Myers Beach over the constitutionality of its town code granting deviations for exceptional circumstances in the case of TPI’s Margaritaville.

Brookes had raised the constitutional objections in Patton’s appeal to the Second District Court of Appeal in June but the judges stated that their review was narrow in scope and that the type of constitutional objections Patton filed would have to go through a separate court challenge.

“Although there was no written opinion, the appellate court judges indicated in oral argument that a constitutional challenge to the Town Code’s vague use of the undefined “exceptional circumstances” to grant a 300% increase in density must be brought by a declaratory judgment action so that is what we filed today,” Brookes said. “We hope the circuit judge will hear our case very soon.”

Mayor Ray Murphy called the latest lawsuit “another delaying tactic in a long list of them.”

The new suit was filed within a day of the Second District Court of Appeal’s denial of Patton’s appeal of a circuit court decision last year challenging the Town of Fort Myers Beach Council’s 2018 approval of the Margaritaville project.

The complaint filed by Patton calls on the circuit court to declare that the Town of Fort Myers Beach Code Section 34-1803(a)(2) violates due process and is unconstitutional based “upon a subjective finding of unspecified exceptional circumstances to increase hotel density.”

Patton’s suit contends that the proposal for a 254-room, four-story hotel with six acres of commercial space gave the developers a 300% increase in density over what was allowable under the town’s land development code. Murphy, who lives less than 2,000 feet from the project site, argues that she will be “adversely affected by the increased density of hotel guests utilizing the already congested Estero Boulevard.”

“It’s disappointing to me that they are continuing this but certainly not surprising,” Murphy said. “I was telling people ‘don’t get your hopes up.'” Murphy said he hopes the case can get “resolved quickly.”