Former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash is not giving up his fight over three groins planned for the north tip of Longboat Key.
Last month, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection dismissed petitions of objection for the groins that were submitted by Bradenton resident Joe McClash and Longbeach Village resident Gene Jaleski.
Both McClash and Jaleski asked the state’s Office of General Counsel of the Department of Environmental Protection for an administrative hearing for review of the permit, citing they were persons “whose substantial interests are affected by the department’s action” and claiming the groins would cause environmental harm to the area.
Both petitions, which were filed in July, were dismissed in September because they contained allegations of federal environmental claims that the state has no jurisdiction over. McClash’s petition was also dismissed because it didn’t sufficiently state why McClash had standing to file the petition.
Both McClash and Jaleski had 15 days to address the issues raised and submit an amended petition.
On Oct. 10, McClash filed his second amended petition. The petition states the groins will have adverse impacts to marine life and the coastal area. It also states McClash is an affected person because he “is a longtime boater and Manatee County commissioner for 22 years and was actively promoting protection of the environment during his time in office.”
McClash also objects to a terminal groin being built on Beer Can Island closest to Longboat Pass, on property owned by Manatee County. Town Manager Dave Bullock, however, has noted the town will only build that groin as a last resort. Two groins built on town property near the North Shore Road beach access is the town’s top priority.
The amended petition puts the permit on hold again as FDEP reviews the petition. It took the FDEP approximately two months to review and rule on the previous petitions, which means permits won’t be issued anytime soon.
The town now has an opportunity to respond to McClash’s amended petition. IF FDEP determines the amended petition has merit, than the agency can forward the objections to the Division of Administrative Hearing, where an administrative law judge would be assigned to hear the case.
A federal permit Public Works Director Juan Florensa needs from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the groins will also be delayed because of the federal government shutdown.
Once Florensa receives permits from the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he will put the project (installing two of the three groins) out for bid. It was the town’s hope the project could begin next summer pending further appeals and permit delays and Florensa said he’s not sure when the project could start at this point.
“It’s up to the state to render a decision and we’ll go from there,” Florensa said.
The Longboat Key Town Commission, meanwhile, will discuss a future sand project, in November or December at a regular workshop. Commissioners will review a shoreline survey completed this summer to decide whether or not a sand project is needed and where exactly sand needs to be placed.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].