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Big Sarasota Pass
Siesta Key Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 11 months ago

Siesta group readies legal action over Big Pass dredge

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Save our Siesta Sand 2 is preparing to take the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to federal court.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Opponents of plans to dredge Big Pass are prepared to take the matter to federal court.

The group Save Our Siesta Sand 2, which formed in opposition to the proposal, announced Friday it had begun the procedures necessary to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps is working with the city of Sarasota on the project, which would use sand from Big Pass to renourish Lido Key.

Save Our Siesta Sand 2 filed a notice of intent that alleges the project violates the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act and Administrative Procedure Act.

“We must prevent this damage from happening and we are speaking for thousands of Siesta Key residents, visitors and business owners who feel the same way,” said Peter van Roekens, the group’s chairman, in a statement.

An Army Corps spokesperson said the organization does not comment on pending litigation. The Army Corps has 60 days from the filing of the notice of intent to address the issues raised. After that window, Save Our Siesta Sand 2 can sue the agency.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit for the project in June. Although efforts to contest the approval have so far been unsuccessful, Save Our Siesta Sand 2 is optimistic about the chances of a federal challenge. 

The notice of intent also says the Army Corps should do more to examine the project’s relationship to the ongoing red tide bloom in the area.

“If we have an unknown variable, let’s figure that out first before we make decisions that are going to have permanent impacts to that coastal ecosystem,” said Jane West, Save our Siesta Sand 2’s attorney.

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