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State denies Cape’s boat lift barrier permit

By Staff | May 19, 2011

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection does not want the Ceitus boat lift/barrier replaced, denying the city’s permit application because it does not comply with state water quality standards.
Replacing the barrier would have a negative effect on fish and wildlife, public health and safety and could cause harmful erosion, among other reasons, according to the DEP.
“After reviewing the application … the Department has determined that this project is not clearly in the public interest and will result in adverse secondary impacts,” wrote DEP District Director John Igleheart in a May 11 notice.
Lee County plans on filing an administrative action to possibly force the replacement of the barrier, according to Commissioner John Manning, who added that the action must be filed within 21 days of the denial.
Manning said the commissioners want a resolution to the environmental concerns within the estuary.
“We’re not surprised they made the decision they made, but a little surprised at the reasons for it and the rapid nature that the decision was made,” Manning added.
Pine Island Environmentalist Phil Buchanan said he, too, was surprised by the speed in which DEP made its decision, and like the county, would likely seek some sort of legal action.
Buchanan said the DEP was in violation of its own consent order with the denial, and that DEP was fulfilling a “political promise.”
“They promised the Cape government they wouldn’t approve it,” he said.
Nate Bliss, who not only lives along the spreader but, like Buchanan, was also part of the North Spreader Ecosystem Management Agreement process, said that no evidence has been produced that shows Cape waters are polluting the estuary.
The administrative hearing will be an opportunity for that evidence to be produced, he said, but he doubts any evidence exists.
“I will be surprised if sufficient evidence is put on the table to support the opposition’s view,” he said.
Its unclear how long the administrative hearing process will take.
DEP Environmental Specialist Meghan Mills could not be reached for comment.