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The original item was published from 10/19/2020 2:24:34 PM to 11/16/2020 12:00:02 AM.

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Posted on: October 15, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Response to latest lawsuit by property owners seeking to build dune walkover

Ombre Blue Sky Facebook Post

As has been widely reported by local news outlets, Edward Rood and Kurt Kroemer - through their corporate entities Squeeze Me Inn, LLC and Texas Hold’em - have recently filed a “quiet title” lawsuit against the State of Florida. These gentlemen sought approval from the Town to build a dune walkover on their properties, which was denied by the Town Council. Their new lawsuit does not involve the Town. There have been a lot of rumors, suggestions, innuendo and misstatements regarding this issue, and we wanted to share the facts based upon public record documents as follows: 
  • Mr. Rood and Mr. Kraemer’s lawsuit does not involve the Town, Mr. Rood and Mr. Kroemer have sued the State of Florida and only the State of Florida.
  • The lawsuit does not seek the dissolution of the Little Estero Island Critical Wildlife Area (“CWA”).  The sole relief sought is a court determination that “the Plaintiffs own in fee simple, the accreted land [behind their homes]  Nowhere in their lawsuit do Mr. Rood and Mr. Kroemer ask the court to dissolve the CWA.
  • Irrespective of the outcome of the litigation, Mr. Rood and Mr. Kroemer are required by the Town Code to obtain a special exception to build their “dune walkover”:
  1. Per § 34-652 of the Town Land Development Code (“LDC”), all beaches and wetlands whose preservation is deemed critical to the Town are designated as being zoned EC (Environmentally Critical).  Furthermore, “[accreted] beaches or wetlands, whether by natural causes or through beach renourishment or artificial filling, [are] automatically assigned to the EC zoning district.”
  2. The “dune walkover” is an accessory structure and per § 34-652 of the Town LDC, accessory structures in the EC zoning district may be permitted as a special exception.
  • The dune walkover was designed by Mr. Rood and Mr. Kroemer’s consultant to be outside of the CWA per their special exception application on file at Town Hall. Then why the new lawsuit?
  • Both the Lee County Circuit Court and the Second District Court of Appeal have ruled that Mr. Rood and Mr. Kroemer must comply with the Town’s LDC and obtain a special exception for their dune walkover.  Circuit Court Judge Duryea’s order states: “. . . under Sec 6-366(b)(2) [of the LDC]  . . . the proposed minor structure must meet the special exception process because it is not permitted by right due to the fact that it is not a perpendicular dune walkover. This categorization was confirmed . . . when the town staff member testified to the Council that the Code states that this type of minor structure requires a special exception.”  Judge Duryea order was upheld on appeal by the Second District Court.
  • The Town is treating Mr. Rood and Mr. Kroemer no different than any other property owner under similar circumstances.  In fact, only two or three months prior to their public hearing before the Town Council, the Town required Lee County to apply for and obtain a special exception to replace the four existing publicly owned beach “dune walkovers” at Lynn Hall Park because they are located within the Town’s EC zoning district.

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