Leaders approve ordinance to allow drinking on Fort Myers Beach

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Video by fox4now.com

Leaders approve ordinance to allow drinking on Fort Myers Beach

By FOX 4. CREATED Sep 4, 2012 - UPDATED: Sep 4, 2012

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. - Drinking on the sand just got easier on Fort Myers Beach.  

Fort Myers Beach leaders will now allow almost every business to serve booze on the beach.  They are paving the way for businesses along the shore to get in on the new revenue stream. 

The ordinance will allow the 12 restaurants and bars that already serve to extend that area.  And those that don't could also cash in.  It would not apply to liquor bought at area stores. 

“The town is not going to allow open containers in public spaces.”

Businesses could apply for a permit to serve alcohol up to 2,500 square feet on the shoreline, they'd have to stop an hour after sunset or by 9pm at night, whichever comes first.  It goes into effect on March 4 - giving establishments time to apply. 

“I think residents, other patrons, people on the beach would be mindful of illegal drinking .” Mango store owner Tree Andre says.

Andre believes the new law would curb reckless behavior because bar owners would be quick to report it.

“That all of these businesses here will have spring breakers going nuts and that's not the case at all.” Andre says.

But others say with business already up this season, more people and more noise is the last thing he wants to see. 

“I don't really see a need to increase the beach area to make it an alcoholic beverage and that's what it’s going to end up being.  We've got enough distraction here,” says Rob Degennaro, Nervous Nellie's owner.

Critics also argue this would affect sea turtles during nesting season. But officials say all business will have to comply with already existing protections in place. 

As for the noise that could arise, the sheriff's office will continue to patrol and keep that at bay.