Saturday, October 16, 2021

Madeira Is Fined $8000 For Dune Vegetation Removal

Lake Madeira’s pooling and ponding were not addressed in the Consent Order.

A Consent Order dated December 3rd, 2019, was issued by FDEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) to the Madeira Condominiums Association LLC located at 350 South Collier and to RR Restoration of Georgia LLC to resolve the violations noted in the FDEP complaint dated July 2nd, 2019.

The Consent Order states, “FDEP finds that the Madeira and RR Restoration violated Section 161.053(2), F.S. On July 2, 2019, an FDEP inspection revealed unauthorized removal of native dune vegetation, beach scraping, and excavation of heavy equipment resulting in damage to existing dune contours to reveal the underlining shell fill material in preparation for use as a staging area and support base for a large crane necessary for roof repairs for the 16-story condominium. The activities described were conducted without an FDEP permit and is in violation of 161.053(2) F.S.”

Crane Reach Line from the Beach.

FDEP Ordered Fines to be paid within 30 days of the effective date of this Consent Order: Madeira Condominium shall pay $8000 to FDEP which includes a $500 administrative charge.

RR Restoration shall pay $8000 to FDEP, which includes a $500 administrative charge.

Within 180 days, replace a designated quantity of beach-appropriate sand fill in the affected area, obtained as part of a Collier County beach re-nourishment program. (Funding for this is NOT specified. It is unclear whether the taxpayer will be funding this remedy, County or Condo?) The writer reached out to Gary McAlpin of Collier County Coastal Zone Management with no response.

Notes on the Consent Order

According to the information contained in the Consent Order, the Madeira is a LUXURY CONDOMINIUM with 101 residential units. A payment of $8,000, is equal to $79.21 per unit in a property where listing prices are in the range of $4 million per unit and up. 

Question: What is the largest fine that could be imposed by FDEP? By imposing a low number, is FDEP trying to avoid a legal dispute? 

Both Madeira Condominium and RR Restoration admitted that on July 2, 2019, without appropriate permitting, removed native vegetation and scraped the beach to prepare the site for a large crane’ for the purpose of conducting roof repairs.

Vegetation Removal: The unpermitted removal of dune vegetation very likely allowed more light from the Madeira onto the beach during Sea Turtle season. 

FDEP Sea Turtle Protection Regulations states, “Trimming that will result in a lighting violation of Sea Turtle Protection Regulations which is strictly prohibited. Marine turtle mortality resulting from increased illumination may be considered a violation of Chapter 370.12 FS, and the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. Such a violation could subject the responsible party to prosecution by both the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with fines up to $10,000.”

Vegetation Restoration: Within 365 days of the effective date of this Consent Order, a minimum 80% overall survival rate of the planting units must be established and 80% of the planted area must be covered with the selected species with no significant gaps evident in the shore-parallel direction. 

The unpermitted removal of dune vegetation very likely allowed more light from the Madeira onto the beach during Sea Turtle season.

Violation of the terms of this Consent Order may subject Madeira and RR Restoration to judicial imposition of damages, civil penalties of up to $10,000 per day per violation and criminal penalties.

Paragraph 19 allows anyone with “substantial interest” to petition for modification of this plan. It is not clear how anyone may consider themselves to have a substantial interest—other than JW Marriott.

According to Tonia Selmeski the Environmental Planner, the City is in support of the proposed dune restoration plan which has been approved by FDEP along with the timeline of restoration activities as outlined in the Consent Order.

This Consent Order does not authorize roof repairs. This still has to go through a separate permitting process. The roof repair will proceed using the beach as a staging area for the crane—it assumes Permit will be granted.

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