Topps Site Hearing Postponed


LPA/Council Joint Meeting Set

The request for rezoning of the site of the former Topps grocery store (2545 Estero Blvd.) and a revision of the Master Concept Plan for development brought out several residents Tuesday, August 13, 2019 for the Fort Myers Beach Local Planning Agency meeting. They would be disappointed as the Public Hearing was continued for what contract Town Planner Jason Green said would be about two months. “We will notify property owners within 500 feet of the property again for that meeting.” He indicated that town staff and the applicant agreed to the continuance. Applicants/Agents for the project are listed as: Quattrone & Associates, Al Quattrone, Greg Stuart (Stuart & Associates Planning and Design) and John Gerlach (Colliers International).

The 2.16 acre parcel, currently zoned Commercial Planned Development (CPD), is vacant. According to the staff report, in 2008 a CPD with a Master Concept Plan (MCP) was approved for this site. No development order, building permit application or construction followed. The two buildings on the site were demolished earlier this year. The Land Development Code (LDC) calls for vacation of any MCP if there is no development order in the first three years after approval. The MCP can be extended up to two years if specific conditions are met, but no extension was granted for this site.

The LPA’s agenda packet included an application with two MCPs proposed, both with a hotel as the primary use with a total of three buildings. The applicant-preferred plan includes 39 rooms and would require deviations in density and equivalency factors; the other plan has 32 rooms, as summarized by town staff. Both plans include 30,000 square feet of office space, restaurant, commercial and retail space in two buildings separate from the hotel.

The staff report prepared for this week’s LPA meeting, indicated that staff recommended denial of the MCP extension, rezoning and modifying the MCP. After announcing that the hearing was postponed, Green indicated that staff would be working with the applicant and the hearing should be held at the October LPA meeting.

Joint Meeting with Council

In other business, the LPA agreed to three topics of discussion at their upcoming September 5 joint meeting with Town Council: Building Heights & Setbacks; Administrative Approvals and MUD (Minimum Use Determination).

Jane Plummer, Vice Chair of the LPA, running the meeting in place of Megan Heil who was absent, expressed concern about the number and size of liens the town has placed on properties and asked if the town ordinance that prohibits the purchaser of property from negotiating with the town regarding the fees could be changed. Green said that code enforcement is not under the purview of the LPA and suggested she discuss it with council.

Plummer also asked Green if town staff was having a lot of issues regarding the required 33% of open space on a lot. Green replied, “No, that’s not a problem for us, but people don’t like it.” He explained that  the biggest challenge is to explain that residents can’t pave their entire lot.

In response to another question, Green explained that Town Council had decided to address land vacations along canals on a canal-by-canal basis. Staff is working now to determine the costs to vacate town-owned property that is landward of seawalls, and which has created complications for residents applying for permits, who learn their property may stop several feet short of the seawall.

Street Performers was another topic Plummer wanted to discuss, asking if council would reduce the number of performer permits. Green said that council will address this at their August 19 meeting. “We’re trying to establish a defined space, there should be ample opportunities…if we have 12 spaces and two performers share each space, that’s more performers than we’ve had. We want to reorganize it so that it’s easer for us to enforce.”

Green suggested moving the next two monthly meetings to September 17 and October 15 to avoid overloading staff with meeting preparation for a council meeting and an LPA meeting in the same week. He said he would contact Town Attorney John Herin, Jr. and notify LPA members of the actual meeting dates.


By Missy Layfield