Environmental groups are thrilled with a court ruling against a developer who wanted to build on protected mangroves on Captiva Island.
Harbor Point is a planned residential community and marina on the northern end of Captiva. South Florida Water Managers approved a building permit - and the destruction of 8 acres of mangroves in Outstanding Florida Waters in the process.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation and the Captiva Civic Association appealed the permit to the state. The court ruling returns the permit to the water management district, saying alternatives to mangrove destruction were not considered. The Conservancy’s Andrew McElwaine says it’s a nice victory.
“I think this is a precedent setting case because I think it will, we think, require developers who are destroying mangroves and wetlands in SWFL to consider alternatives to their destruction. So it’s not only an important case in terms of Captiva Island and maintaining the remaining mangroves on the island, but I think it’s important region-wide.”
McElwaine says the water management district now has to act on the court’s recommendations. If it doesn’t consider something other than letting the mangroves be bulldozed, the plaintiffs could take the issue to a higher court.
Eight acres of mangroves in Outstanding Florida Waters on the north end of Captiva Island will remain intact for now, after an administrative law judge issued a 50-page ruling against their destruction. He nixed a developer’s permit, okayed by the South Florida Water Management District, because alternatives to mangrove destruction were not considered.
Three groups, including the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, appealed the permit. The Conservancy’s Andrew MAC-ul-wayne says they’re very pleased because of the ramifications this decision could have on another planned development.
“We don’t always get successful outcomes in appealing water management district cases. We’ve got a tough one ahead of us on the Mirasol development here in Collier County. So this was a very good win and I think it sets us up to be perhaps more successful than we thought we might be appealing Mirasol’s permit.”
Environmentalists want the same outcome in the Mirasol case – in which the water management district also approved destroying wetlands near Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary for a golf course community.
Friday, 10 November 2006 00:00
Harbor PointWritten by Amy Tardif