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Siesta Key Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 1 year ago

Sarasota County says Siesta house barricade is unauthorized, homeowners remove ropes

Sarasota County officials sent a letter to the homeowners asking them to remove the barricade.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

A few weeks after homeowners built a makeshift barricade blocking off part of their property from the public beach at Siesta Key Beach Access 1, Sarasota County officials said the barricade was unauthorized.

The homeowners removed the stakes and rope that once cordoned off the area, but left a rock wall along the perimeter of the property. 

In 2017, Greg and Michelle Olson purchased the $3.5 million property, which is directly south of the public beach access. In an effort to keep residents and animals off their property, the couple placed ropes, stakes and slabs of concrete around their property, which left many residents questioning the legality of the barricade. 

In 2018, then-Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that gave more power to waterfront property owners to eject people from their part of the beach. The Florida Constitution, however, protects public access to any beach that regularly gets wet from the rising tide.

In early January, the Sarasota County Environmental Protection Division sent a letter to the homeowners stating the cordoned-off section of beach featured unauthorized construction seaward of the Gulf Beach Setback Line Location. So, homeowners removed the ropes. 

However, the Sarasota County Coastal Setback Code established the Gulf Beach Setback Line (GBSL) and Barrier Island Pass Twenty Year Hazard Line (PHL) to protect Sarasota's coast from activities that "jeopardize their integrity and accelerate coastal erosion." Such activities include construction, excavation and habitat alteration. 

The letter states that county staff observed the boundary extends to the waterside of the PHL and rocks installed as part of the barricade have no county permit history and may extend seaward of the PHL. 

The county requested that the homeowners apply for an after-the-fact Water and navigation Control Authority permit to reposition the revetment landward of the PHL or seek an after-the-fact Coastal Setback Variance to retain any shore-parallel rock seaward of the PHL, which they did. The county now has 35 days to review the permit.  

The letter also asks the homeowners not to modify, add or reposition any rock or concrete associated with the historic remains of the groin structures near the property because authorization from Sarasota County is needed.


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