Court rules in favor of Margaritaville developer, Town of Fort Myers Beach
The 20th Circuit Court has ruled in favor of TPI Hospitality and the town of Fort Myers Beach, lifting the last existing hurdle for the Margaritaville Resort development project.
The announcement was posted to TPI’s Facebook page Wednesday afternoon and confirmed by Town officials.
“This is an important ruling, for sure,” said Mayor Anita Cereceda. “We’re hoping everyone can accept this ruling with grace. No one has to lose this case, but it definitely wasn’t exactly a win either, it’s all for the future of the town, bettering our community. We’re all part of Fort Myers Beach, the plaintiff, town staff, everyone involved is part of this community. If we can put the bickering and name calling aside and work to make our community what we all want it to be, there’s no reason for us to fight.”
Resident Chris Patton filed two lawsuits contesting the project, one of which was a civil action lawsuit that would have brought the town and TPI to court in November. That suit was withdrawn in June.
The second, for a “writ of certiorari,” essentially a judicial review so that a judge may review the facts and determine if there were any mistakes made, remained. The filing was specifically to determine whether the town staff did its due diligence and treated the project according to the comprehensive plan and the usage of the development, and whether Town Council followed proper procedure and state law when it approved the project.
The Court’s ruling is as follows:
“The Court finds the Town did not depart from the essential requirements of the law when it decided to approve Ordinance 18-04…This case does not represent a miscarriage of justice. Petitioner is correct that the LDC has restrictions that the project is going to exceed. However, such deviation was permitted on the Town finding that exceptional circumstances existed to support the Town’s approval of the Ordinance.”
The ruling was greeted as a positive by the beach business community.
“We’re just excited to see this project go forward, even with all of the legal issues, it’s a big deal for the Beach,” Jacki Liszak, president of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, said.
According to information provided in July after the civil suit was voluntarily dismissed, TPI Hospitality plans to start construction on its 254-room Jimmy Buffet inspired resort on March 1, 2020.
All of TPI’s tenants, including Sunny’s Beach Gifts, Discount Liquor, Quickie Scooter, Island Life Realty, Cigar Hut, the Mermaid, and the Pierview Hotel, were to close down operations by Jan. 5, 2020 to make way for the multi-site development project that proponents say will remake the heart of the beach while preserving beachfront and the Skyway Bridge view upon entering the island.