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Town Council rejects Publix liquor store

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Jan 12, 2021

Fort Myers Beach Mayor said the town doesn't need another liquor store in his statement rejecting the application for a special exception permit by Publix to build a liquor store at their Estero Boulevard location

The Town of Fort Myers Beach Council voted 4-1 against a proposal by Publix to add a liquor store adjacent to its supermarket on Estero Boulevard.

The supermarket needed permission of the council to sell liquor as the business is within 500 feet of a residence and requires a special exception permit.

Fort Myers Beach Attorney John Herin Jr. said the town’s own liquor regulations have been in place since 2012 though he said the town also inherited similar regulations from Lee County.

The Publix supermarket has been criticized for being too overcrowded.

Councilmember Dan Allers expressed concern about “vagrants” and “loitering” in the area, which some neighbors expressed.

Neighbor Joseph Pugliese argued vigorously against the liquor store, which he said would take away parking spots from a lot already regularly full. The liquor store would also add to vagracy and make traffic problems worse, he said. He and other neighbors complained about existing issues with crime in the area.

Owners from two other liquor stores in town also objected.

Councilmember Jim Atterholt said he is concerned about the neighbors and how security could handle two different buildings at once.

Mayor Ray Murphy said he was on the town council that approved Publix in the 1990’s. “There was plenty of opposition believe me,” he said. “We worked with the neighbors” and “there was all kinds of concessions made,” Murphy said.

“Publix never came forward looking for a liquor store because they knew it was a dealbreaker,” he said.

“We don’t need another liquor store. We’ve got plenty of liquor on the island,” he said. Murphy said he had nothing against drinking but said “what we need is a pharmacy.”

Murphy had previously called on the supermarket to build a pharmacy when they were in front of the previous council.

The council voted 4-1 to reject the liquor store. Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros was the lone dissenting vote.