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Jason Adams

 

Jason Adams

Principal Ecologist, Adams And Nichols Ecological Consultants

 
 
 
Win, Win, Win – Manatees, Regulators and a Developer
 by Jason Adams
July 6, 2011

 Manatees and developers frequently cross paths as the attraction to live on Florida’s beautiful coastline draws many from near and far.  In 2009, a SW Florida developer sought to complete the environmental permitting requirements for the construction of 52 total docks along a borrow pit adjacent to Ten Mile Canal in Ft. Myers, FL.   The confounding issue for the developer was that only 30 of 52 total docks were guaranteed construction because conflicting language designed to protect the Florida manatee occurred between state and federal permits.

 A UNIQUE PROBLEM

Conflicting regulations between the state and federal agencies as they related to manatee protection were hampering the ability of waterfront owners to construct 52 waterfront docks while at the same time not negatively impacting a seasonal population of Florida manatees

There were three major conflicts between the state and federal agencies.  First, the state  permit had a special condition which allowed only for the initial construction of 30 docks.  Following a year of monitoring, an additional 22 docks could be constructed provided that no impacts to the manatee had occurred as a result of the initial 30.  It was this special condition that conflicted with the federal permit because no incidental ‘takes’ are permittable under the Endangered Species Act.  Second, the federal agencies would only review the project once and base the biological opinion on a 52 slip ‘multifamily’ dock facility being constructed, not staggered 30 then 22 individual docks after monitoring.  Third federal permits could not be issued for the 52 docks until the language between the state and federal permits were the same.

AN INNOVATIVE SOLUTION

Our solution for our client was to clearly and effectively communicate with the regulatory agencies that the developer was willing to put in place measures designed to mitigate any potential impacts to the Florida Manatee.  These measures included the creation of an individualized HOA Manatee Protection & Boater Educational Awareness Plan.  The plan involved the establishment of a yearly training and educational program maintained and administered by the Homeowners Association for boaters to be made aware they shared their waters with the manatees and how best to avoid impacts through responsible boating practices.  Other measures included staggering the construction schedule of the docks and building them as each residential unit was constructed, permanent no wake zones, providing funding for increased marine law enforcement activities and allowing the regulatory agencies access to the waterway for scientific and regulatory needs. After a final modification to the state permit language was completed incorporating all 52 docks, the end result was a win-win-win for the developer, the regulatory agencies and most importantly for the Florida Manatee.

In closing, the developer was permitted by federal, state and local agencies to construct 52 single family docks due to the joint effort of all interested parties to work together.  The end result contributed to a higher appraised property value for the developer, an amenity for future residents to enjoy for many years to come and our beloved manatees a protected resource to utilize in perpetuity. 

 

-Jason R. Adams is a Principal Ecologist with Adams and Nichols Ecological Consultants, LLC (ANE)  a full service Florida based environmental consulting firm that provides environmental consulting and permitting services to individuals, firms, developers, federal and state agencies. Mr. Adams and Dr. Brent Nichols, Ph.D. (Principal Scientist) have worked closely with clients over several years to address the environmental issues and regulations set by local, state and federal governments.  ANE is often tasked with complex problems and provides their clients with unique solutions that lead to unparalleled results.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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