ENGLEWOOD, FLA. - Neighbors living next to a piece of property on Manasota Key in Englewood called it a mangrove massacre when the property owner illegally cut down mature mangrove trees without a permit last February. Now Sarasota County has issued a deadline for Paul Maurer to bring his property up to code.
When neighbors saw workers cutting down mangrove trees filling in a tidal basin at 8215 Manasota Key Road, they took action. "As soon as we saw them starting to bring truckloads of fill and start to cut, we tried calling everybody we could, because you can go online and see there weren’t any permits,” said Manasota Key resident Rick Schuessler.
The work was being done on a Saturday and by the time the right people were notified the neighbors were left with what they called a mangrove massacre.
“We responded and found that a mangrove swamp habitat had been clear cut,” said Howard Berna, an Environmental Supervisor with Sarasota County. Berna said property owner Paul Maurer also dumped fill dirt into a tidal basin without a permit. The county issued a stop work order and took the case in front of a special magistrate.
“The special magistrate issued a compliance order on April 16 for certain corrective actions to be taken.”
Maurer has been ordered to remove fill dirt from the tidal basin, pull a permit for the fill dirt he added to the property and replant three species of mangrove trees and other native coastal plants. Schuessler is glad the county has been taken action but he is sad about losing the 30 foot tall mature mangrove trees.
“I wish he was restricted to planting larger mangroves because it is going to take more than our lifetime to see this look anything like it looked before but at least it is being restored.”
Schuessler says many of neighbors were upset when the mangrove trees were clear cut and will be keeping an eye on the recovery process.
“The whole neighborhood, everybody takes an interest when they go by and now hopefully that there is a specific plan on record that he has got to follow, that should be easier to monitor.”
Maurer has until June 16th to bring his property up to code. A hearing is scheduled for June 20th with a special magistrate to make sure Maurer has complied with county ordinances. If Maurer has not complied at that point, the special magistrate, appointed by County Commissioners, will take appropriate action by assessing penalties.