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Council approves Myerside development

Preserving Fort Myers Beach cottages key to approval

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | May 4, 2021

Myerside Resort and Cottages / Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Aiming to preserve the town’s cottages, the Fort Myers Beach Council gave the go-ahead for Beverley Milligan and Roland Weinmann to have a boutique store and restaurant at Myerside Resort and Cottages.

The council voted 4-1 in favor of an ordinance which would change the zoning of the property from residential conservation to commercial planned development and allow for the sale of alcohol at the restaurant. Milligan and Weinmannn said wine and beer will be served at the restaurant.

The project had faced scrutiny due to its location near the Fort Myers Beach Elementary School, Fort Myers Beach Public Library, the little league baseball fields and Bay Oaks Recreational Campus.

Town staff had recommended denial of the project for being inconsistent with the comprehensive plan and the residential neighborhood. The Lee County School District also opposed the project.

The majority of the town council was supportive of the re-development though.

Myerside Resort and Cottages / Photo by Nathan Mayberg

A list of more than two dozen stipulations were attached to the approval. One of those was taken care of Monday with the owners delivering a check to the town for $12,000 to help pay for a new sidewalk in front of the property.

The restaurant will have noise restrictions which will not allow the playing of music until after 3 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. Milligan said the music will be limited to radio or Spotify-type of setup. They don’t anticipate any live music, she said. “It’s not big enough,” Milligan said.

“We feel amazing. We’re relieved it’s over. We’re really happy at the outcome,” Weinmann said.

“We’re going to make it so beautiful,” Milligan said. “It’s going to be the best possible property that’s ever existed in that place,” Milligan said.

“There is still a lot of work ahead,” Weinmann said. “Now we can concentrate on preserving the cottages.”

Myerside Resort and Cottages has been approved for a zoning change which will allow a restaurant and store on the property. / Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Milligan and Weinmann had previously been given approval by the town to turn the site into a bed and breakfast.

Milligan said the restaurant and boutique store will face Estero Boulevard.

They hope to bring another cottage or two onto the property.

Veach expressed worry about the precedent it would cause if residential properties could be purchased, rezoned and turned into commercial properties. He also stated concern for opposing the school district’s wishes and the impact it could have on the future of the school.

“The town staff has been emphatic and consistent that this is not consistent with the comprehensive plan,” he said.

Veach was concerned that the new zoning change, including the hotel designation, did nothing to preserve the cottages. “The applicant has not offered any proof that this preserves cottages,” he said.

“Sometimes you have to take people at their word,” Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros said. “Nobody else has made this effort to save cottages.” She said the neighborhood was no longer a residential one.

“I feel this is a unique situation,” she said.

Mayor Ray Murphy, who supported the redevelopment, said it will be watched closely due to the proximity to Bay Oaks. “You will be under scrutiny,” he said.

Councilmember Jim Atterholt said there was a strong desire in town “to maintain the eclectic, unique character of Fort Myers Beach” and that preserving the cottages was important to that goal.

Former mayor Tracey Gore, who had spoke out against the ordinance, said after the vote that the serving of alcohol at the restaurant was too close to the elementary school. The conditions placed on the owners were not enough, she said. “The kids still have to pass it,” Gore said.