The Lee County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to authorize the Lee County Attorney’s Office to file an emergency lawsuit in Circuit Court to bring MW Horticulture into compliance with regulations in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.
The vote, which happened at the regularly scheduled Board meeting, also authorizes the County Attorney’s Office to join the Florida Department of Environmental Protection if DEP also files a lawsuit against the business.
MW Horticulture operates yard-waste recycling sites in North Fort Myers, off East Street and in south Fort Myers, off Thomas Road. MW Horticulture leases the property at the two sites from property owners. Both MW Horticulture and the property owners have been ordered to come into compliance with regulations through the County’s Code Enforcement process, as well as fire district and state agency directives.
The Lee County Hearing Examiner in October 2018 found the operation in North Fort Myers in violation of Lee County Ordinance 93-39 for a nuisance accumulation of horticultural debris. After two deadline extensions, on July 10 the Hearing Examiner began imposing a daily fine of $200 until the violation is corrected.
The Hearing Examiner is anticipated on Aug. 19 to hear a similar request for a daily fine at the south Fort Myers site.
The accumulation at both sites has resulted in numerous fires as well as continuous air- and water-quality issues.
Following the Board vote, the County Attorney’s Office will now request a Circuit Court judge to issue an injunction forcing MW Horticulture and the property owners to come into compliance with county regulations, thereby providing relief to neighboring residents and business owners.