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Civic storage facility plan
December 27, 2017

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When the Lee County Board of County Commissioners allowed a developer to build a storage facility in North Fort Myers without having to spend $45,000 to plug into the public sewer system, it raised a lot of eyebrows.

The North Fort Myers Civic Association was among entities displeased with the decision, and discussed it toward the end of their monthly meeting the night after the BOCC nod.

Association members said the city needs to extend sewers to bring in the kind of businesses that will make developers want to build in the community, instead of a hodge-podge of septic/sewer businesses.

Though Civic took no position vote on the matter, Civic President Michael Land said he would speak with Commissioner Brian Hamman, who represents North Fort Myers and approved the measure.

"It costs $500,000 to build the facility. What's another $45,000?" Land said at the meeting. "I think it stinks. We need to bring North Fort Myers into the 21st Century."

Hamman explained his decision at the Chamber of Commerce Business Leader's Luncheon at Smoke N Pit, saying as the land is privately owned, the owner can do what he/she feels fit.

"He's a private property owner and decided in America, with his own money, he wanted to put up a storage unit. It's not the government's place to say 'No, you can't do that,'" Hamman said. "It is our role to apply the code and make sure what you build is compatible with the area."

The BOCC allowed Realmark Storage to install a septic tank on the site instead of extending the sewer line past its property.

Realmark engineers argued that washrooms and a caretaker residence would only use 500 gallons of sewer flow per day, far less than the 5,000 gallons to trigger the requirement for sewers.

Hamman said it's another storage facility, but it's development, which is why they helped him, with a caveat.

"This person was going to have pay a significant amount to have sewer lines extended there. We allowed him to get the project off the ground and have a septic unit, but we told him he'd have to connect to the sewer when the lines are extended to his business," Hamman said.

Land maintained the commission was wrong to allow the exception, since the association has tried for years to get central sewer into all the main areas to promote development.

"They should not be carving out exceptions when the owner next door has to put in sewer. Why give him a break?" Land said. "I could see them giving a break for something that's badly needed like a hospital or a small college, something that adds value to a community. Not this."

Land said the community has a number of such facilities.

"People who think of us in a derogatory sense talk about it being all trailer parks, laundromats and now storage facilities," Land said.

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