On June 5th at 1:38 PM, Marco Island Community Service Officer Lupu was conducting his usual beach patrol and observed two workers engaged in construction activity driving large wooden pilings into the beach and pouring a paved sidewalk down to the beach. The activities occurred between South Seas Tower I and South Seas Tower II with multiple sea turtle nests nearby.
Officer Lupu called Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), reporting a possible sea turtle nest disturbance and construction permit discrepancies. Officer Kyle Plussa of FWC responded to the call and confirmed that it is sea turtle season (May 1st – October 31st) and there should be no coastal construction work being conducted during sea turtle season.
FWC Officer Kyle Plussa arrived at the scene and observed the construction of a walkway between South Seas Tower I and South Seas Tower II. The only permit the workers had on site was one approved by the City of Marco Island dated April 6 for the construction of a 1022 sq. ft. beach walkover and was issued to South Seas West Condo Association located at 260 Seaview Ct. Work crew supervisor Carlos Rafael Montanez admitted that they had started construction the previous week.
Nothing on the City permit indicated that Sea Turtle Season begins in 24 days! Nor did it contain a warning that all construction must end by May 1st. No State permit was posted onsite as required by law. The work crew supervisor admitted to Officer Plussa that he knew it was nesting season and they should not be building on the beach.
According to the Incident Report filed by Officer Plussa, three workers onsite, namely Carlos Rafael Montanez, Juan Carlos Carcamo, and Adrian Ramirez, all residents of Naples, were charged with the violation of Florida Statute §161.041—which pertains to UNPERMITTED COASTAL CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY.
In addition, they were charged with the violation of a Florida Administrative Code (FAC) 68A-27.0031(2)(b)1-5, which states that all five of the sea turtle species in Florida are listed as imperiled species as either endangered or threatened status and that “no person shall take, possess, sell any of the endangered or threatened species in this subsection unless allowed by federal or state permit.”
All three defendants were issued a court summons for Second Degree Misdemeanor for the violation of FS 379.401(2)(a)2—which states “no person shall take, harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in such conduct.”
Maura Kraus of the Collier County Sea Turtle Biologist and Coastal Environmental Specialist confirmed that any coastal activity, particularly those that were described in the FWC report would have a negative impact on both the sea turtle nest, egg and any hatchling within the nest or adult sea turtles desiring to come ashore to lay their eggs.
The author tried to reach South Seas West Condo Association for comments along with Rafael Carlos Montanez, Defendant (website for Imperial Marine Construction list him as Manager) but received no response from both. The case is scheduled for a September 17th pre-trial according to Collier County Court records.
The June 30th Code Enforcement Magistrate schedule listed the case of the City of Marco Island vs. South Seas West Condo Assoc. and Imperial Marine Construction – Case # 20-0870 – 260 Seaview Ct, Marco Island, FL 34145 – Public Nuisance, No Building Permit, Construction during nesting season, Regulation of use and conduct on the beach, Protection and permitting procedures, Prohibited activities. The defendants requested a continuance.