FORT MYERS, Fla.- A Ft. Myers homeowner is taking on an organization that feeds the hungry from a church building in a neighborhood, near downtown. Pim Verhoeven says the hundreds of clients at the food pantry disrupt his street, and create a lot of noise and traffic. He wants the city to deny the pantry a new permit to operate.
"I want my life back. I want to be able to come out to the front porch in the morning and eat my breakfast. Now I cannot do that. People yell at me, and there is all of this traffic when they hand out the food. It is too much," Verhoeven told WINK News.
"I disagree. The clients are orderly and very gracious. They are very happy to get food. We keep disruption to a minimum," said Bernie Fettkether, president of the St. Vincent De Paul Society. "We just want to feed the many needy people in this area. We gave out more than 1-million pounds of food last year alone. We serve tens of thousands of people."
Verhoeven on Wednesday will ask the Ft. Myers planning board to deny a conditional use permit for the food pantry, located on Lafayette Street near City of Palms Park. He has submitted pictures showing the traffic jams outside the pantry, and one picture shows smoke, apparently from auto exhaust, right in front of his property. "I think they could find any number of vacant empty lots and empty gas stations along 41 for their pantry. That would not disrupt anyone if they would move," said Verhoeven.
The Ft. Myers city planning staff is recommending that the planning board grant the conditional use permit for the pantry. Verhoeven says, if he loses the fight against the pantry, he likely will move out of the neighborhood.