PLCA and Hyatt Overreach Jeopardizes Food & Beverage Services and Creates Beach Park Usage and Capacity Issues

There has been much misinformation, and non-information about the issue of adding food service provided by the Hyatt on the Hickory Island beach.

As originally proposed and brought to the UOC in the late spring of 2014 for “discussion” by the UOC, this was to be a “prepackaged” sandwich menu with chips and soda and water. Along the way, but with no notice to the UOC (and over the summer when few were here), wine and beer got added. And then from prepackaged sandwiches it got extended by the Hyatt, without discussion by the UOC, to “grilling” hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken sandwiches on a portable “hot dog” grill.

This change, from prepackaged food only, to grilling, caused a number of problems in the regulatory agencies at the county and state level. These changes in what was requested by the Hyatt occasioned limits on numbers of people per day that could come to the island (as opposed to our past limits of numbers of people on the beach at any given time) because the regulations for a prepackaged food service require a septic system that will allow for 4 gallons for each person per day (we have a 3000 gallon capacity in two septic tanks so 3000 divided by 4 equals 750). At this point, only the Lee County Department of Health’s regulations had been applied.

But, then the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and its Division of Hotels and Restaurants weighed in. So the final operating license has a number of other restrictions including NO SEATING as this will be a TAKE AWAY food service. THIS MEANS ALL TABLES AND CHAIRS IN THE PAVILION MUST BE REMOVED. It appears it also means all tables and chairs on the surrounding decking must be removed as the grilling will be done on the deck at the south end of the building.

There are numerous other costly renovations to the Pavilion that must be made under State law before food service including grilling can be provided (without this grilling addition the regulations are much less costly as they do not require all the kitchen, bathroom and other upgrades and we would most likely already have a limited prepackaged food service already on the island).

My best analysis of what will come next is that the “cost benefit” analyses by the Hyatt “risk analyzers” will find that this beach food service with the grilling option they added does not have the profit potential necessary for a FOR PROFIT private enterprise to take it on. I wish to have this information about what happened: “BEYOND what we were originally told the UOC and when food service was expanded by the Hyatt”. IT IS OBVIOUS THAT IF WE DO NOT GET FOOD SERVICE ON THE BEACH, IT HAS NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH THOSE OPPOSED TO THE ADDITION OF FOOD TO THE BEACH OR THE UOC OR ANYTHING ELSE. IT IS THE RESULT OF THE REGULATIONS OF STATE AND COUNTY AGENCIES APPLIED BY CONSCIENTIOUS CIVIL SERVANTS. This in the end is precisely what the Bonita Springs Zoning Board and City Council relied upon in granting the zoning exception to allow a food service on Big Hickory Island

WHAT THIS REPRESENTS IS A TOTAL FAILURE OF THE BOARD AND THE HYATT TO INVESTIGATE THE LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THIS REQUEST AHEAD OF TIME. That to me is a failure of due diligence of our Board and why we need to elect a board that will go in a new direction and take its duty to we the owners seriously,

BELOW IS A CHRONLOGY OF THE FOOD LICENCING PROCESS WHICH SHOWS WHY WE NOW DO NOT HAVE FOOD SERVICE ON THE ISLAND! And the reason has all to do with “overstretch” of the Hyatt and our Board beyond what the proposal as put forth suggested.

1. The first document is the application of the Hyatt for food on the beach which was made on June 26, 2014 with the State restaurant regulatory agency (DBRR). The need for a variance from the AG2 (agriculture) Zoning classification of the Big Hickory Island property for this application to go forward prompted an appeal for a zoning variance and a hearing before the Zoning Board of Bonita Springs. Click on this link to see document

2. Note that the owners here at PLCA first heard of this Zoning hearing when Bob Loos discovered a ”notice of public hearing” posted on the Beach Pavilion just 2 days before the Zoning hearing on this in late July 2014. Several PLCA residents testified at this hearing and again at the hearing on this before the City Council of Bonita Springs on August 6, 2014. Both Bonita Springs government bodies voted to grant the variance but both included the condition that the Hyatt must meet all regulatory requirements of all concerned local, county, state and federal agencies for food service on the breach.

3. The second document is the DBPR Chronology of exchanges between the Hyatt and the DBPR: Including absence of septic approval (8/27/14); Septic approval (9/26/14); new plan after septic approval asking for grilling as part of the Septic approval… Click on this link to read document

4. Next is the Lee County Health Department revised operating license where the Hyatt got the septic license to include grilling and it is at this point that the conditions for upgrading the Pavilion, creating a kitchen, PROHIBITING SEATING IN THE PAVILION AS THIS IS A “NO SEAT, TAKE AWAY” FOOD SERVICE LICENSE appear. Click on this link to view diagram
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5. The DBPR final license conditioned on meeting all the conditions therein for food service on the island. (the provisos).

The property owners of Pelican Landing own the beach and should expect to be fully informed about any changes in proposed usage that will affect their enjoyment, access to, limits on or any other conditions affecting their property rights.

None of this information has been made available to the PLCA owners except after the fact of decisions made. And much is still unknown.

Fortunately, our local, county and state governments are subject to sunshine, Freedom of Information and transparency laws and the employees therein take these laws seriously.

Every inquiry I have made to these local, county, state and now federal agencies has been immediately and fully addressed with courtesy and full disclosure and so far no expense in “copying” costs as I am happy to review in person or accept electronic copies.

SO WHY IS IT THAT TRYING TO GET THE SIMPLEST INFORMATION OUT OF THE PLCA STAFF AND BOARD IS MET WITH SUCH RESITANCE AND TAKES SO INORDANTLY LONG??

I have asked to review the daily beach traffic figures apportioned between the Hyatt and PLCA over the past year and 2 months (Dec 2013-Feb 2015). Under state Home Owner Association law, I need give no reason for my request. But let me tell you what that reason is: I want to know when peak usage time is, when and if we have exceeded our past limits of 480 on the beach at any given time, when and if we have exceeded 750 people per day. I have an absolute state HOA law legal right and an equal right under PLCA regulations to this information. And the law says I must have a response within 10 business days. On February 9, 2015 I sent by Certified Mail a request addressed to Marie Martel to view the documents that chronologize this usage. (still waiting for this info as of 2/23/14)

Just to contrast this: three days after my request to the DBPR, I had a pre-scheduled conference call with the Deputy Chief of Inspections and department attorney in which all my questions were addressed and within an hour all the documents I had requested were emailed with no charge to me. My experience with the Lee County Department of Health, Division of Septic compliance was equally as satisfactory.

Submitted by Barbara Craig

3 thoughts on “PLCA and Hyatt Overreach Jeopardizes Food & Beverage Services and Creates Beach Park Usage and Capacity Issues

  1. So it’s fine for PLCA to go along with limited prepared food service on the beach, only to have our “partner” Hyatt apply for far greater cooking and full liquor setvices, including live and recorded music, thereby opening a huge can of worms and jeopardizing our full use of the beach park? I’m sure glad our “partner” will have a permanent seat on our board of directors if our current management has its way. And the PLCA attorney represented Hyatt in this fiasco! That’s not an example of a responsible board and knowledgeable management at work.

  2. The time is way overdue to get rid of these WCI/ Hyatt handmaidens and get some people on the board that will represent the residents of Pelican Landing!

  3. Sounds to me like the process is unfolding as it should. Nothing new would ever happen if no decisions were made until all information is known. A truism missed by those driving by the rear view mirror where the fact of their retrospection hides their lack of vision and resistance to all change. It seems like the regulatory institutions are doing what we hire them for. It seems like the businesses like the Hyatt are doing what they should be. Business analysis and planning. It seems like the board is doing what they volunteered to do. Representing the average resident and collaborating with our partners.

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