The state’s Department of Environmental Protection has dismissed petitions of objection for three north-end groins that were submitted by Bradenton resident and former Manatee County Commissioner 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 for both similar and different reasons.
While both petitions were dismissed 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.
While McClash stated he’s a longtime Manatee County resident and a boater in the area for more than 40 years, he doesn’t own property near the affected area.
Jaleski’s petition, which is a copy of McClash’s petition, was dismissed for similar federal environmental claims and was also dismissed because it wasn’t filed before the designated deadline.
Both McClash and Jaleski have 15 days to address the issues raised and submit an amended petition. They both also have the right to seek a judicial appellate review of the order if they disagree with the DEP’s petition dismissal.
If they choose to do nothing, town attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale said the intent to issue permit at the state level will be final and the permits for the groins will be labeled valid and not subject to future challenges.
Public Works Director Juan Florensa said he’s still waiting on a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the federal level in regard to the permitting of the groins. A federal government shutdown that went into effect Tuesday could delay that permit, Florensa said.
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 and it could begin next summer, pending further appeals and permit delays.
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].