TO: Town Council and Local Planning Agency
FROM: Bill Spikowski
DATE: September 4, 1996
SUBJECT: Land-Use Issues of Immediate Concern
During the summer we have been identifying a number of critical land-use issues that could
benefit from fairly immediate attention by the Town. Some of these issues will be extremely
difficult to resolve, but they deserve open debate and the early identification of various
alternative policies that might be chosen. These critical issues are summarized below in
1. Multiple dwellings in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes
- This is evidence of the pervasive lack of code enforcement by Lee County through the
- We need to define the full range of options along the continuum of
removal/enforcement/amnesty/ legalization, and think about the implications of each
- But also, under what conditions might existing or future multiple units be acceptable,
or even desirable?
2. Hotel/motel densities
- In the last year, Lee County greatly reduced the allowable density of hotels and
motels. But even under the new rules, a minimum of three hotel/motel units are
guaranteed for each one regular dwelling that would otherwise be allowed (in zones
where motels are permitted).
- While the maximum number of dwelling now allowed under the Lee Plan is only 6
units per acre, 18 hotel/motel units can be built
- In actual impacts, however, one motel unit can have more impact than one seasonal
dwelling unit (including some positive impacts, such as to restaurant proprietors).
- The result is that property owners seeking maximum gain from their property are
being induced by your rules to build hotel/motel units rather than condominiums.
- Is this the desired public policy of the Town of Fort Myers Beach? If not, the
regulations need to be changed. (Lee County is currently changing its rules again, to
reduce the multiple down to two motel units per regular dwelling if the motel units
exceed 350 square feet in size; but this change will not apply to Fort Myers Beach
unless you make a similar change.)
3. Effect of mandatory flood regulations on future rebuilding
- The FEMA flood regulations will hamper the successful rejuvenation of Old San
Carlos Drive and the Estero Boulevard commercial areas around the Lani Kai.
- Is it technically and financially feasible to rebuild a high-quality pedestrian environment
here, or not? (The question hinges around the ability to successfully "flood proof"
- The University of Florida study had suggested elevating the retail spaces above the
flood elevations; but this poses many practical problems (unless the existing small lots
- If neither approach is feasible, the existing buildings will continue to deteriorate, or will
be rebuilt incrementally outside the current regulations (endangering the Town's
participation in the National Flood Insurance Program).
- Are there any other alternatives?
4. Post-disaster redevelopment policies:
- The Lee Plan's current "buildback policy" protects every landowner, but gives up the
opportunity to improve the built environment after a natural disaster.
- What alternatives might be developed that would still protect existing landowners
while laying the groundwork for redevelopment that would result in a better
5. "Creeping commercialization" of the island
- This is a common problem in mature resort communities.
- Continuing commercial expansions seem to be a threat to the many remaining
- How much more commercial is too much? Or is it the type of commercial, or its
physical form, that is the real problem?
- The Town can more clearly define which areas are suitable for more commercial, and
which are not.
- In areas that are suitable, why not change the regulations so that commercial buildings
will frame an attractive pedestrian environment, instead of creating isolated buildings in
parking lots with little or no connection to surrounding uses?
6. Peak-season parking shortage -- some options include:
- Off-island parking lots, made more attractive through transit improvements.
- Develop WRT's plan for interconnected/shared parking lots behind businesses on
Old San Carlos Drive.
- Change county policy and provide surface parking at Bowditch Point.
- Build a garage (Old San Carlos area?).
- Town-owned parking lots near Times Square, built with assessments on benefitting
- Privately-owned shared parking lots (at least during the peak season), that are
encouraged by the Town's regulations.
- Church parking lots that could be used during peak season for beach parking, with
convenient trolley pull-offs (income for churches; avoid paving any more of the island
for short-term parking needs; avoid using commercial parking for beach-goers).
7. Future of land fronting Estero Boulevard from the Key Estero Shops to Skipper's Galley
- Diamondhead site at Virginia Avenue
- One of the few remaining parcels that could provide another public beachfront
park (along with the Red Coconut) -- but does the Town want another beach
park, and would there be any way to finance a purchase of even part of this
- Or, a negotiated alternative development plan, one more in keeping with the
desired community character?
- Or explore a mixed-use alternative, such as pedestrian-scale commercial along
Estero Boulevard with some beach views preserved, trolley terminal with
ancillary commercial (restaurant/cafe/gifts etc.), some multifamily overlooking
the Gulf, etc.
- School/Library/Bay Oaks/grocery store
- This is the "center" of the island for residents.
- Could become the other anchor of a pedestrian zone beginning at Lynn Hall
Park, in conjunction with continuous landscaping and sidewalks along Estero
- Red Coconut
- Mobile homes and RVs have a high potential for storm damage.
- The incongruous mix of current zoning categories provide no guidance for
- The site has strong redevelopment potential:
- Additional public beach?
- Termination of Estero Boulevard commercial?
- Expansion of recreational/civic complex around Bay Oaks?