Neon lights in historical downtown Fort Myers raise concern

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FORT MYERS, Fla.- Downtown Fort Myers has grown immensely in the past decade.

“We’ve seen the growth and we’re very happy with the growth that’s occurring,” said resident Terry Hall, “but we choose to live in a historical district.”

Living in a historical district, or running a business there, comes with guidelines. Hall says not everyone is following those guidelines.

WINK News walked around downtown with code enforcement Wednesday. Bright lights on the outside of businesses were among the violations found.

“Anything that is attached to the outside of the building has to be approved by them,” said Rick Scott, a code enforcement officer.

Scott says the Historical Preservation Commission is responsible for approving and keeping the historic look of downtown Fort Myers.

“I do have a problem with some of the new things that area going on downtown without the approval process being done,” Hall said.

Scott says sometimes new businesses violate the code. For instance, an ice cream shop, set to open soon, looks unassuming during the day. At night, however, the shop shines bright neon lights. The Lodge, a new restaurant, does something similar.

“What happens if next week the Edison home starts putting LED lights all over the exterior of the building?” Hall questioned.

Scott says it’s a balancing act. They want the business to be successful, but they also want the downtown to look great.

Although lights on the outside of downtown buildings are not allowed under the Historical Preservation Commission code, lights on the interior of a downtown business are acceptable.

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