■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE
It must be July, because someone with a whole lot of time on their hands has decided to wage a complaint war against several local businesses … and it appears that the iconic pink gas pump in front of Hudson’s Grocery has been targeted.
On July 19, Lee County Code Enforcement received eight complaints regarding everything from flower boxes to shopping carts in the downtown area, specifically on Park Avenue and E. Railroad Avenue.
The first, at 480 E. Railroad Ave. – Seale Family Realty, Inc. – is specifically targeting Boca Grande Cart Rentals. The complaint lists the alleged infraction as “commercial use of the ROW [right-of-way] renting golf carts.”
The second is at 380 E. Railroad Ave. – The Barnichol. This complaint reads, “plants/propane tanks/mulch/ soil in public walkway.”
Number three is at 390 Park Ave. – Boca Grande Real Estate. Someone is confused on this one, as the complaint reads, “ commercial use of ROW/clothes racks and benches.” The last we checked, Boca Grande Real Estate wasn’t selling clothes.
The fourth complaint targets 428 4th St. W., which is Fugates. It reads, “flower boxes in public walkway.”
The fifth complaint is at 411 Park Ave., Gulf Coast International Properties. More specifically, someone is upset about the benches in a public walkway.
The sixth complaint is about yours truly, the Boca Beacon/Gasparilla Outfitters building. It says, “commercial use of ROW selling newspapers/nuisance benches and a magazine rack in the right-of-way.”
The seventh complaint is at 441 Park Ave., which is Hudson’s Grocery. The complaint cites “outdoor seating on the sidewalk and out of approved area/also retail ice machine in ROW/ nuisance accumulation of shopping carts/gas pump.”
That’s right, they even want the pink pump gone.
The last complaint, sent on July 19, is at 384 E. Railroad Ave., The Inn Bakery. It reads, “The Bakery, daily has table and chairs on the sidewalk blocking the right-of-way and forcing pedistrians (sic) onto the street to bypass. With small children or animals, it becomes a hazard to navigate, creating a tripping hazard in addition to again blocking the average pedistrian (sic).”
All of the complaints are listed as pending and were due to be addressed, with a final determination issued by July 24. As of press time on July 25, all complaints were listed as “pending investigation.”
On July 16, Lee County Code Enforcement logged a code violation at the Pink Pony regarding seating and the new take-out window. It read, “Violation of Special Exception 97-07-049.04s; the maximum number of outdoor seats has been exceeded; the location of the outdoor seating is not in the approved area; a window for food service has been created and is not allowed, and the hours of operation have been exceeded.”
That is why there are no longer seats available in front of the business, but that decision may be revisited in the near future.
On July 2, someone complained to Code Enforcement that the new Tortuga sign was illegal. They were cited, and the sign is down.
How did we come by this information, you ask? Because we inquired as to some plantings on the 3rd Street beach access. We found out that a permit was given by the County to the homeowner at 291 Gilchrist Ave. – the house on the southwest corner of Gilchrist and 3rd Street – allowing them to plant trees and sea grapes in the space allotted for parallel parked cars along that street. In other words, they called the complaint “unfounded.”
There have been 25 complaints lodged against downtown businesses and other island residents since December of 2018. Numerous complaints were listed on the “Damfi” streets and Gilchrist Avenue.
You can find this information on your own by going to accelaaca.leegov.com. Simply type in “Boca Grande” in the city search bar.
Keep reading, we will get you more details as they are made available.