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DEP issues warning for alleged tree hut violation

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

The state agency that regulates coastal construction issued a warning and violation report Dec. 9 to the owner of Angelinos Sea Lodge, 103 29th St., Holmes Beach, for erecting a “roofed elevated wood frame deck seaward of the CCCL without a permit.”

        The report from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Water Resource Management, Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems, describes possible further violations as an “alteration of an existing sand dune system by creating/sculpting cleared pathways and viewing areas through the dune area for use by visitors.”

        Last month after an anonymous caller alerted the city of Holmes Beach about the structure, the city contacted Steve West of the local DEP field office.

        West’s department visited the site Nov. 29.

        The city of Holmes Beach in a letter dated Dec. 6 advised owner Richard Hazen of engineering and survey requirements that should be satisfied before a “letter of no objection” will be considered.

        The letter of no objection will be required of Hazen if he seeks permitting from the Florida DEP. The city is requesting a “sealed drawing from a professional engineering firm outlining the work completed, as well as all proposed future work which would bring the structure to completion.”

        The city also has asked the owner to submit an “as built” survey, including property and erosion control lines, a description of materials used and requirements to meet hurricane-force wind regulations.

        The lodge includes four vacation rentals, and the tree hut was built as a private place to read, write, relax and enjoy dining, according to Huong Lynn Tran, wife of Hazen.

        Hazen contacted city officials last spring and asked whether it had any permitting regulations for a tree house. At the time Bob Schaffer, city building inspector, advised of no regulations.

        However, city officials now say they did not expect the extent of the two-story, enclosed structure on the beachfront.

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