Homeowners remain skeptical of Bonita Springs buyout program

Homeowners who have been plagued with a history of flooding due to major storms like Hurricane Irma are being given the option to sell. And neighbors living under these conditions say they are not taking the issue lightly. Many attended a city meeting to be heard publicly.

The City of Bonita Springs discussed its voluntary home buyout proposal at its Thursday meeting, giving city residents whose properties sit atop a major flood plain the choice to sell or not to sell.

“I just don’t like the whole idea of it,” Charles Flescher said.

City workers visited the neighborhoods of homeowners being given this option to survey those who would be willing to sell their homes. The city seriously considered this bargain after homeowners experienced major flooding after Irma in 2017.

For Flescher, he said the city’s proposal is a no from him.

“It’s like a big push, ‘You got to sign these papers quick; we’ve only got so much time’” Flescher described how he feels is the city is pressuring neighbors living on the flood plain. “How about having some input from the people that went through this thing to start with.”

Neighbors gave their input during public comment at the meeting. A lot of homeowners are still trying to pay off loans and banks for the work completed on their homes after the hurricane two years ago.

Neighbor Carlos Perez is one of those homeowners. He said it doesn’t seem likely he will get a fair market price to stay in Bonita Springs with the stipulations the city is offering him.

“The problem is right now there’s no place to rent or to buy a house because it’s so expensive in this area right now,” Perez said.

The state has allocated $75 million to buy properties that were affected by Irma, which is what prompted the idea to propose the home buybacks. But other cities are eligible for the grant, so it’s unclear how much grant money Bonita will receive in the end.

This discussion will continue at another public meeting Tuesday.

For more information, visit the City of Bonita Springs website.

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Reporter:Jerrica Valtierra
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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