The Fort Myers City Council voted Tuesday to allow a junkyard to expand. Opponents said the city previously took measures to stop any more junkyards from coming to or expanding in the city. The approval was a long and contested battle.
The Garden Street Recycling Iron and Metal Recycling Center will now be called the Garden Street Iron and Metal Junkyard and Recycling Center.
Over two days, those for and against the expansion picked over law, environmental concerns and land uses - among other things.
Both sides argued over the legality of allowing the junkyard expansion because of conflicts involving the city’s land development code and comprehensive plan.
Fort Myers has a total of 10 junkyards.
Mayor Randy Henderson said Garden Street’s plan is an opportunity to create better curb appeal in Fort Myers.
Robert Weber, president and owner of Garden Street Iron and Metal, said the expansion will be best for the city.
“To allow me to go forward and to start fixing up or make the changes on our property and our expansion, I think it will give the other dealers incentive to either clean up or disappear,” he said.
Those opposed to the expansion includes attorney Jenna Persons. She represents three former city councilwomen.
She said these women fought to create a law that would stop any junkyards from opening in or expanding in Fort Myers. Persons said her clients will be disappointed.
“They stood up at a time where it wasn’t easy to say, ‘No’ and to stand on their principles and they fought very hard for the law and what was good for then and the future of the city,” she said. “And now that law was disregarded and a new fight has to be made.”
Now, councilman Tom Leonardo said the decision will be settled in the courts.