State sues three Marco Island property owners, alleges docks illegally built

The state is seeking removal of the docks, which it says were illegally placed on state-owned uplands and sovereign submerged land, along with restoration of the resources affected by the work, said Kristin Lock, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

— The state is suing three Marco Island neighbors, accusing them of improperly building docks on state-owned waters.

The Board of Trustees of the state Internal Improvement Trust Fund office in Tallahassee filed the suits recently in Collier Circuit Court.

The state board, which oversees state-owned lands, filed suit against Kenneth Moss and Daphne Moss, James T. Pratt and Bruce Sooy in September, seeking injunctive relief, damages and civil penalties that exceed $15,000, the minimum amount to have a case heard in circuit court.

The state is seeking removal of the docks, which it says were illegally placed on state-owned uplands and sovereign submerged land, along with restoration of the resources affected by the work, said Kristin Lock, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Kenneth Moss and Daphne Moss, of 1927 Sheffield Ave.; Pratt, of 2007 Sheffield Ave.; and Sooy, of 1991 Sheffield Ave., have property adjacent to state-owned uplands near the mangroves lining Barfield Bay, according to the suit. The property is state-owned land, deeded to the state in 1985, thus the homeowners aren't permitted to have docks on Barfield Bay, Lock added.

"I'm not happy about it," Pratt said of the state's claims.

Pratt said he bought the house with a dock already in place in 2006. The dock size is 641 square feet.

Pratt said he was unaware of the lawsuit and that he had no further comment. He referred other questions to his attorney, Michael Pettit, who declined to comment on the suit.

Moss, who hasn't been served with the lawsuit yet, also declined to comment until speaking to his attorney. Sooy couldn't be reached for comment.

No court date has been set for the cases.

The lawsuits allege that Moss, Pratt and Sooy have encroached onto state-owned land and continue to maintain, improve and use several structures on the state-owned property. Moreover, the lawsuits also allege that this amounted to trespassing on state-owned property.

Four unauthorized docks constructed on state-owned land were discovered on Barfield Bay behind the homes of Chris Canepa (currently owned by Pratt), Sooy, George Wilson and Joseph Carrington, during a review of Collier County aerial photographs, Lock said.

"The survey was not an active investigation seeking illegal docks in Collier County or Barfield Bay," she said.

The Department of Environmental Protection has been working with these property owners for several years to resolve the issue. In that time period, Wilson and Carrington, who weren't sued, have removed the docks behind their homes, Lock said.

While inspecting the two remaining unauthorized docks on Sept. 22, 2010, agency staff discovered another dock constructed on state-owned lands behind the home of Moss, Lock said.

The department conducted a Mean High Water Line survey on April 18, 2011, confirming that these properties don't extend to the mean high water line and the docks must be removed, officials said.

"Since the owners continue to refuse to remove the docks, the department has been forced to file a complaint in court," Lock said in an email.

Carrington supports his neighbors in keeping their docks, even though he tore down his own dock last year.

"It's aggravating that they forced me to take it out," he said. "It's not fair to let some people have docks and others not."

Carrington tore down his dock in February 2010 after he received letters from the Department of Environmental Protection threatening to sue, he said.

Carrington, a Marco Island resident for 21 years, built his dock himself in the early 1990s without a permit. Carrington said he didn't know if he needed a permit so he built it himself.

In general, not in this case, residents need to request a building permit from the county, not a submerged land lease from the state agency, Lock said.

Carrington contends that whoever has enough money can buy lots on the bay and get permits to build a dock.

"It's not fair for people to be able to build a dock around the corner," he said, contending his property isn't on uplands nor protected waters.

__ Connect with Tracy X. Miguel at www.naplesnews.com/staff/tracy_x_miguel/

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Comments » 14

happy34145 writes:

Someone should inform the state that the Marco homeowner has been bled dry by the city, we have no more dough.

deltarome writes:

those homeowners knew it was illegal, but just did it anyways.

happy6 writes:

sure they knew it...and so did the dock company and the electrician...whacking down mangroves is certainly against all fla laws.

bigkillsh writes:

some of those docks have been there for more than 30 years . well at least one , for sure .

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot writes:

Just another example of a regulatory agency that needs to be abolished. The docks are not hurting anything. Stop wasting my tax dollars and get the Government out of peoples lives!

retlaw writes:

The Moss/Sooy docks have been there for almost thirty years. Stop wasting my tax dollars.All the dredging and killing of sea-turtles for beach re-nourishment and you mooncalfs F with these people,

ratsnake writes:

If you can build a house there you should be able to build a dock there. If the area was so sensitive, the majority of the damage was done when the place was razed for seawalls and houses IMO. Get it right the next time, but give these people a break.

happy6 writes:

they have not been there for 30 years..there are no seawalls there...get the facts straight...they knew that they were in violation when the docks were put in.

bigkillsh writes:

in response to happy6:

they have not been there for 30 years..there are no seawalls there...get the facts straight...they knew that they were in violation when the docks were put in.

1 at least maybe 2 HAS been there for 30 years and there is not any sea wall you get the facts straght shadow knows nothing .

Nakose_Haco writes:

If they have property insurance, they have had a survey done of the property. They should know full well where the property line falls and are not fooling anyone. One of those docks is 3,000 square feet. They are getting off easy.

happy6 writes:

bigkillsh...point being....the docks are across protected lands...they whacked down mangroves per the photos....we all know that's against the law.

retlaw writes:

in response to happy6:

bigkillsh...point being....the docks are across protected lands...they whacked down mangroves per the photos....we all know that's against the law.

The Sooy/Moss docks were there before the rookery was establish in Barfield Bay.Also shadow (AKA Dork) you are an idiot, knowing nothing about the local history.Stop the hate and stop your dumba&% comments.

happy6 writes:

hey idiot...moss did not live there 30 years ago...he was still in diapers...so...and if you think those docks and boardwalk were built 30 yrs ago...you're a freakin idiot...so bite me.

bigkillsh writes:

in response to happy6:

hey idiot...moss did not live there 30 years ago...he was still in diapers...so...and if you think those docks and boardwalk were built 30 yrs ago...you're a freakin idiot...so bite me.

hey D.A shadow the sooy house was built over 30 years ago and also the kids in the area had built access with wood planks where moss's house now stands . shadow = some old fart with nothing better to do . you mad becouse you can't have a dock .

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