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Town sends parking lot owner back to drawing board

January 29, 2020
By NATHAN MAYBERG (nmayberg@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Key Estero Shops owner Carmen Naccarato came to the Town of Fort Myers Beach Council looking to prove his property was "grandfathered" into charge for parking, but the town council denied his plea.

The council rejected the arguments of Naccarato and his attorney Steven Hartsell that he should be allowed to continue charging $10 a day for those who park at one of the town's largest parking lots but aren't visiting the shops there.

The lot is centrally located adjacent to the Post Office and in close to proximity to Times Square on Estero Boulevard within easy walking distance to that side of town.

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The Key Estero Shops parking lot was quiet Monday afternoon but gets busy during peak weekend times. The owner, Carmen Naccarato has been found to be in violation of the town code for the paid parking at the site and his application to the town council to have the commercial parking lot grandfathered in, was denied.

NATHAN MAYBERG

Jason Green, of the town's community development office, said the old zoning code under Lee County allowed for the commercial parking but under the town's new zoning the owner has to ask for a special exception to support the commercial uses.

Hartsell said Key Estero Shops "fits into the purpose and the intent of the downtown district to provide as much flexibility as possible in favor of providing parking spaces for visitors. This is just another vehicle to allow for paid parking to take place. The problem that we're facing is the demand for parking spaces is huge and the supply is insufficient."

Hartsell said the property never was cited for code violations by the county and that even after the town incorporated, the property wasn't cited until a recent notice of violation. Hartsell presented affidavits saying the owners charged for parking going back decades.

Hartsell said only four of the 20 units at Key Estero Shops are being leased out. There are 135 parking spaces on the site. If Naccarato doesn't put a parking attendant there, the lot will be filled up, he said.

"He needs the revenue from these parking spaces to keep this shopping center alive," Hartsell said.

Vice Mayor Ray Murphy asked Hartsell what the long-term plans are for the site. "Is it actively being marketed for lease?"

Hartsell said the long-term plans are to keep it as a shopping center. Murphy said he had an issue with the site if the shopping center is not being actively marketed to lease.

"I don't think we should be creating parking lots because there is a problem with the property," he said.

Councilmember Bruce Butcher believes the lack of tenants at the shopping center could be a result of the paid parking. Butcher said he didn't remember being charged for parking before the new owner took over in 2017. Butcher said he is sympathetic to a lack of parking on the beach and would be willing to allow certain parking spaces if a public restroom was placed at the property.

Mayor Anita Cereceda questioned Hartsell's position that the property should be grandfathered in.

"What would be the purpose of the Town of Fort Myers Beach incorporation in changing the zoning in all of the boulevard properties? Was that an exercise in futility?"

Councilmember Rexann Hosafros said other property owners in town had to comply with town code when it changed.

"It would be nice if we could have some extra parking available," she said. "This is the easy way out."

Cereceda said the applicant should go through the special exception application and the board denied Nacarrato's request to be a non-conforming use property.

 
 

 

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