A group of Fort Myers Beach business owners and community leaders have united to launch VOICE of FMB in response to the proposed Grand Resorts FMB development plan. In just one month, VOICE of FMB has more than 500 active members on Facebook, and an executive team of fifteen stakeholders. The executive team invites the support and input from other Fort Myers Beach stakeholders. “Everyone that lives, works and plays on Fort Myers Beach is a stakeholder, and deserves a voice in this matter,” says Connie Ramos-Williams, spokesperson of VOICE of FMB.
The group advocates for responsible preservation and development of Fort Myers Beach. “Although that may sound like an oxymoron to some,” says Ramos-Williams, “the group welcomes new development, but wants to make sure future development is held to the same set of rules and comprehensive plan that the town has enforced over the years to preserve the architecture and integrity of the small island beach town.” The current land use plan is designed to protect the town of Fort Myers Beach and its residents from the scale and intensity of this type of development. VOICE of FMB believes it is in the town’s best interest to adhere to the current plan.
Voice of FMB has created a Facebook page that invites residents, business owners and tourists to voice their opinion, concerns or suggestions regarding the Grand Resorts FMB development project in an open forum. The VOICE of FMB Facebook page also shares up to date media coverage and public meeting notices to keep everyone informed. In addition to the Facebook page, the group launched the VOICEofFMB.com website for those that may not be on social media. The website provides basic information about the proposed Torgerson development project, town and county public meeting dates, and contact information for public officials so that stakeholders can reach out to officials directly to voice their opinions.
Some of the specific concerns VOICE of FMB has with the new proposed project is the ramifications of the seawall, the overall size and density of the project at the entrance to the beach, lack of up-to-date traffic studies to show the true impact of this project on traffic flow, cost of the project to taxpayers, and the uncertain future of Crescent Beach. Another concern is how town council will go about handling requests for approvals and permits for the proposed development. The proposed plan does not adhere to the town of Fort Myers Beach’s current comprehensive plan, so many wonder how Grand Resorts FMB has even gotten this far along in the process in the first place.
After Hurricane Charlie, FEMA offered Best Western Fort Myers Beach a grant of $630,000.00 to renovate the resort and relocate everything from the ground floor to a newly constructed 6th floor. It lost the FEMA grant when town council enforced the comprehensive plan’s height restriction, preventing owners from building the 6th floor.
At the time, this was a decision that did not sit well with Paul Malbon, co-owner of Best Western Fort Myers Beach. “My expectation is for town council to continue to enforce these same set of rules with Grand Resorts FMB and any future development,” says Malbon. He adds, “Suddenly bending or updating the rules to accommodate the desires of Grand Resorts FMB, is simply not acceptable.”
The public meeting hosted by Torgerson on Thursday, January 14 at Bay Oaks unveiled a slightly revised development plan, but it’s the opinion of VOICE of FMB that the changes made are still not sufficient enough to meet current codes and rules set in the town’s comprehensive plan. For more information about VOICE of FMB, visit wwwVOICEofFMB.com, www.facebook.com/VOICE-of-Fort-Myers-Beach, or email info@VOICEofFMB.com.