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Thursday, 17 September 2015 10:16

FMB Council Selects Perry-Lehnert as New Town Attorney Featured

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Dawn Perry-Lehnert Dawn Perry-Lehnert

The Town of Fort Myers Beach selected a new Town Attorney last week, on September 9th. In a 3-2 vote, the Council elected to go with the services of Dawn Perry-Lehnert, an attorney out of Cape Coral. A motion was originally made by Vice Mayor Dan Andre to retain the services of then-current Town Attorney Derek Rooney, but his only support in the vote was Council-member Alan Mandel, and that motion was defeated in a 2-3 vote.

“I think we need to move forward,” Andre said regarding his motion. “I think there is going to be a lull, whether its two months, three months, or four months, to get somebody up to speed to continue what we’re doing.”

Mayor Anita Cereceda, the only member of Council who held personal interviews with all four candidates earlier in the day, voiced her support for former Fort Myers Beach Town Manager Marsha Segal-George.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the person who would best do the job for Fort Myers Beach is Marsha Segal-George,” Cereceda said. “The people who were at fault for the drama after Hurricane Charlie was the Fort Myers Beach Town Council. They failed to fulfill their role, but Marsha took the fall.”

“She had a stellar record with the Town of Fort Myers Beach,” Cereceda said. “And we wouldn’t be here today were it not for things she put into place.”

“She is in many ways, a highly qualified attorney,” Council-member Rexann Hosafros said. “However, I received an enormous amount of negativity from the citizens of this island, and I feel like I can’t vote for her because she would always be climbed up that hill in order to accomplish anything.”

In the end, Cereceda joined with Hosafros and Council-member Summer Stockton in voting for Perry-Lehnert. The motion to hire her carried 3-2, with Andre and Mandel dissenting.

The issue of the Matanza’s Inn’s CPD also came to a resolution, with Council tasked that night to provide direction on whether the patio on the properties southeast corner will be included in the restaurant’s use, and thus be allowed to have Consumption On Premises.

“It has not been simple, but it’s been a good dialogue,” Doug Speirn-Smith, owner of Matanza’s Inn, said at the beginning of the hearing on the extended process to get approval for extending his restaurant’s operation on the property. “Whenever we propose change, or more, or different, it’s just a negative reaction and there is no common ground.”

“At the same time, I think we’ve been constructive in amending site plans and creating setbacks, and inventing music management plans,” Speirn-Smith continued. “That’s what the CPD process can do. It allows for unique processes, conditions, and reasonableness, given the situation.”

Speirn-Smith said that the situation is that the Town knows what they are getting, as the patio has been built and been in operation for 14 months, and that the noise it can create is a known quantity.

A motion by Andre was approved 3-2 that the patio was an existing restaurant space according to the Master Concept Plan. Andre then motioned that they allow COP expansion into that area, and that motion carried 3-2. Mayor Cereceda and Council-member Hosafros were the dissenting votes on both. Hosafros’ objection was based on the view that the COP was erroneously giving by previous Staff, rather than taken to Council.

Additional discussion clarified that COP was limited to the three existing restaurant areas on the property: the existing restaurant, eastern rear deck, and the aforementioned patio.

The clarifications were approved 3-2, with Cereceda and Council-member Stockton dissenting.

By Trent Townsend

Read 2322 times Last modified on Monday, 21 September 2015 12:19

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