Developer's Palma Sola Bay dock is on hold in the wake of mangrove cutting

Article Courtesy of The Bradenton Herald

By Matt M. Johnson

Published February 2, 2015


MANATEE -- A condominium development that is being investigated regarding the destruction of mangroves along Palma Sola Bay will not be able to move forward on building a planned dock until the state resolves the case.
Two weeks ago, the Manatee County Planning Commission approved amendments to a preliminary site plan submitted for the Palma Sola Bay Club condominiums. The amendments included the construction of a 500-square-foot observation dock to be built on the property's bay frontage.


But an inspection report by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection found mangroves on the development's property had been cut in violation of a state permit, the Bradenton Herald reported Friday. The county has put final approval of the dock on hold.
"The mangrove issues will have to be resolved with DEP prior to any new developments or entitlements being considered by the county," said county spokesman Nick Azzara.
The state inspected the site Jan. 16. DEP inspectors found that workers had cut and trimmed more mangroves than allowed by a state permit. The permit allowed a small "window" to be cut through the branches of the tree in two cuttings spread over two years. Inspectors found the protected plants had severely cut back. Ten plants, the inspection report stated, were dead or had been removed.

A view looking towards the bay through a section of trimmed-back mangroves across the street of the Palma Sola Bay development in Bradenton on Friday.

Manatee officials were notified of the cutting well before the inspection. According to Ingrid McClellan, executive director of litter prevention group Keep Manatee Beautiful, one of the group's roadside cleanup volunteers reported seeing a trimming crew cutting the mangroves Jan. 6. McClellan relayed that by email to the county.
The condo development's owner, Prospect Real Estate Group, stated this week that it followed the conditions of the permit. The area in which the mangrove trimming occurred is an 8-acre piece of land that has been dedicated as a conservation easement, according to a press release Prospect issued Thursday.
Prospect's president, Mark Filburn, said a crew working for his company trimmed the mangroves as allowed. He said trespassers cut the mangroves again after the Prospect crew did its work.
Upon receipt of DEP's inspection report issued Jan. 22, Prospect has 15 days to contact the department to discuss corrective actions. Those actions could include a fine or replanting mangroves.