FORT MYERS BEACH, Fl. - A unanimous vote approves a controversial alcohol ordinance on Fort Myers Beach. This means beach front restaurants will now be able to serve you a beer or a cocktail while you're on the sand.
Leaders spent hours Tuesday night approving several requirements that would address concerns including how they plan to protect sea turtle nests and enforce the ordinance.
Several citizens sounded off from both sides of the debate.
"If it's not broken leave it alone," says business owner Rob Degennaro.
He owns a restaurant here. He spoke out against serving booze on the beach saying it would ruin the family-oriented draw Fort Myers Beach offers.
"We serve alcohol as well, I think it would be hard to contain folks on the beach, it's hard enough keeping them inside the building," he says.
Jason Camp is the director of business development with the Holiday Inn and Suites here. He says, being able to expand their service to the sand would bring more tourists.
"To keep us competitive to some of the other beaches around town... as I mentioned the Ritz Carlton, La Playa, you provide a professional family friendly atmosphere and there's really no issues there," he says.
Ultimately, council members voted for the ordinance but with several stipulations in mind.
The expansion can be up to 2500 square feet and must allow a minimum of 50 feet between the water and the serving area for people to walk through.
The ordinance does stipulate some larger establishments are allowed an additonal 10 feet.
All the establishments have to follow all sea turtle nesting laws.
They may not operate one hour after sunset or no later than 9 pm, which ever comes first.
The ordinance also denies any music or live entertainment out on the beach unless the business owner gets a special permit.
Leaders also voted to include a mandatory recycling law.
Even though you might be able to buy booze at some places on the beach doesn't mean you can take a walk with your drink.
You'll have to stay in the designated areas.