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Florida Court of Appeal to hear oral arguments in Margaritaville case

April 1, 2020
By NATHAN MAYBERG ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The Florida Court of Appeal Second District has ruled that oral arguments will be heard in Chris Patton's appeal of a decision relating to her lawsuit against the Town of Fort Myers Beach over the approvals for TPI's Margaritaville project.

The appeal, which also names TPI, was originally scheduled to be heard April 15, in the courtroom of the Stetson University College Of Law in Tampa.

The date for the oral arguments have since been postponed at the request of Patton and her attorney Ralf Brookes. A new date has not yet been set.

Patton is appealing a 20th Judicial Circuit Court ruling that denied her effort to overturn the approvals given by the Town of Fort Myers Beach Council for the Margaritaville project. Patton's initial lawsuit in 2018 was denied in September by Lee County Judge Alane Laboda. Patton's appeal to the Court of Appeal contends that the town's Land Development Code was the applicable law that was to be followed and that the Circuit Court did not apply the correct law when making its decision.

Patton has argued that the town council approval for the 254-room resort was too dense per the town's code and allowed for three times as many rooms as the code allowed for, while also making claims regarding traffic impact, height and TPI's characterization of buildings on the development property which it considers blight.

Patton and Brookes have also challenged the town's approval of granting the project a right-of-way which eliminated the public's beach access through Canal Street through an exchange of properties which they contend is contract zoning.

The town has contended that the exchange was an improvement whereby TPI gave the town three times as much property and agreed to create an additional public beach access and improve the beach access near Crescent Beach Park.

TPI Chairman Tom Torgerson stated in February that he did not believe he even needed to apply for deviations for the height of the Margaritaville building.

Torgerson has stated that potential traffic issues will be tempered by the elimination of seven access points to vehicles on Estero Boulevard. The developers will use parking stackers at the Margaritaville resort to comply with town zoning regulations regarding the amount of parking spaces they need to have on site. Torgerson also has plans to construct a hotel with workforce housing off the island at San Carlos Boulevard and Pine Ridge Road which would supply shuttle service to Margaritaville for its workers.

Torgerson did not return a message seeking comment for this article.

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Anita Cereceda declined comment.



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