Madeira, contractors fined $1,050 for beach code violations in Marco Island, more to come
The Marco Island Code Enforcement Magistrate issued $1,050 in fines on Tuesday against the Madeira on Marco Island condominium association and two contractors for several beach code violations.
Special magistrate Myrnabelle Roche fined the condo association $150 for the use of vehicles on the beach without a permit, a violation of the city of Marco Island code 54-36(d). Roche fined RR Restoration and the subcontractor Caloosa Site Development $150 and $250 respectively for the same code violation.
Roche also fined RR Restoration and the subcontractor $250 each for removing dune vegetation without landscape certification, a violation of code 8-73.
The Marco Eagle reported on July 25 the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sent two warning letters on July 22 to the Madeira's condo association and RR Restoration after a department inspection revealed several code and law violations.
DEP personnel noted the removal of native dune vegetation, use of heavy equipment, damaging the existing dune and the unauthorized addition of shell fill material as a road base during a July 2 inspection. RR Restoration did this in order to stage a large crane to do roof construction in Madeira, according to Dennis Kariores, operation manager of the company.
The Eagle reported in Aug. 13 DEP ordered RR Restoration and the association to continue ceasing all roof construction activities until proper construction permits are obtained. RR Restoration has since submitted a permit application, which is under review, according to DEP.
During the hearing Kariores said the code violations were his fault. "What happened on the beach was totally my fault," Kariores said. "I take full responsibility."
Kariores told the Eagle in July that he had "no idea" about the reported code violations. "We didn't tell anybody or authorize anybody to remove that vegetation," Kariores said at the time. "That's not our equipment there."
Roche, in agreement with the city, delayed issuing fines for removing the dune, a violation of code 54-36(n), until the next hearing on Sept. 24. In the meantime, Roche ordered RR Restoration to present a dune restoration plan to the city.
Roche ordered the association and the contractors to additionally pay the city $50 each for administrative fees and costs. Minutes before issuing these fines and fees, Roche had also fined the condo association $50 for violating sea turtle lighting restrictions.
DEP requests RR Restoration to submit dune restoration plan
On Aug. 16 DEP issued a request for additional information (RAI) to RR Restoration, according to Alexandra Kuchta, DEP operations analyst. "DEP requested that RR Restoration submit a detailed restoration plan," wrote Kuchta in an email to the Eagle on Aug. 23. "At a minimum, the restoration plan should depict the site restored to preconstruction conditions, with elevations and configuration with no net excavation or removal of sand," Kuchta wrote. "The planting plan should include native dune stabilizing vegetation only and a minimum of 3 native dune vegetation species."
Kariores said at the Magistrate that RR Restoration had submitted the restoration plan to DEP but the government agency did not confirm this. "Part of that request (RAI) was for a restoration plan," Kuchta wrote Wednesday. "To date, the department has not received a response to the RAI."
Once the restoration plan is approved by DEP, it will be attached to a consent order, according to Kuchta. "The consent order will stipulate corrective actions, including civil penalties," Kuchta wrote. "DEP will not issue a CCCL permit without resolution of the outstanding violations, which will be accomplished through execution of a consent order."
DEP’s Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL) Program regulates structures and activities which can cause beach erosion, destabilize dunes, damage upland properties, or interfere with public access.
"Regulated activities include the construction of all structures such as homes, condominiums, hotels, amenities, and armoring structures such as bulkheads, revetments and seawalls," Kuchta wrote. "Any kind of protection structure, ground alteration or vegetation removal activity seaward of the CCCL requires a permit."
Neither the Madeira on Marco Island's condo association nor RR Restoration applied for a CCCL permit from DEP prior to beginning activities associated with roof repairs, according to Kuchta.
"On July 31, 2019, DEP received a CCCL permit application to resume activities on the seaward side of Madeira on Marco Island Condominium," Kuchta wrote to the Eagle in August. "DEP’s Division of Water Resource Management and CCCL Permitting Program are reviewing the application."
Captain David Baer, with the Marco Island Police Department, said during the hearing that the city's permitting process is independent from DEP's. "Even if DEP says they can operate on the beach, it doesn't necessarily mean that the city will agree to that," Baer said.
RR Restoration plans to restart roof construction in Madeira on April of 2020, according to Kariores. "We have a lot of work ahead of us," Kariores said.