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DEP warns two dock owners

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

Two docks at 5311 Sunrise Lane, Holmes Beach, line the bayfront after last year’s construction and permitting by the city. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has visited the site, measured and found improper spacing between the docks, and is investigating. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

Warning letters were issued Feb. 29 by the Florida Departmental of Environment Protection to the owners of 5311 Sunrise Lane for constructing docks within 65 linear feet of each other in Anna Maria Sound without a proper DEP permit.

        The letters warn Jason Syrek of AMI Beach Inn LLC and Neil Sivyer of By the Shore Investment LLC, of the possible violations and request they reply to the DEP within 15 days.

        A DEP general permit is required when building a dock in an “outstanding Florida waterbody” unless the construction fits within exceptions for a single-family dock of 500 square feet or less, or is a repair or replacement of a functional dock, according to Ann Gibbs, DEP spokesperson.

        “Considering the fact that the property appears to be operating as a multi-family property,” a DEP enforcement report states, “the docking structures would not have qualified for the statutory exemptions.”

        According to the letters, DEP requires “a permit prior to dredging or filling in, on, or over wetlands or other surface waters.”

        Two DEP site inspections Feb. 15 and March 7 “revealed the construction of two docks totaling 750 square feet in size on the shore of 5311 Sunrise Lane,” according to the inspection summary.

        “Further, it appears the structures are approximately 28 linear feet from each other and are approximately 18 and 38 feet respectively from the property lines,” the report stated.

        A minimum 25-foot setback from adjacent property is required if the length of the shoreline is 65 feet or more. At press time, it is unclear whether a setback violation occurred.

        The owners applied for DEP exemption certification prior to the dock construction, according to Gibbs. However, the certification “does not appear to apply in this case.”

        “We are continuing to work with them toward a resolution,” Gibbs said.

        Also interested in a resolution are Judy and Steve Titsworth, adjacent homeowners on Sunrise Lane. Judy Titsworth has been asking officials about the dock setbacks for several weeks.

        “I have no problem with the person who bought this. They’re really fine people,” said Judy Titsworth. She added, however, the owner she spoke with “doesn’t know she bought a land condo. She thought she bought a single-family home.”

        Still, Judy Titsworth says, the dock “needs to be ripped out. I won’t be happy until it is.”

        Next door to Titsworth one-story ranch home on Sunrise Lane, fronting on Anna Maria Sound, an old ground-level residence was demolished and construction was completed last year on a new three-story home.

        Titsworth, who works in the building trade — she and husband Steve Titsworth own and operate Shoreline Builders — watched while the home at 5311 Sunrise Lane rose three-stories tall and so near her lot line that she planted bamboo as a screen, and then more bamboo.

        Soon a dock was built on the shore, and then another, and eventually a dock extension was added.

        A large boat on a lift on the dock nearest her dock obscured the Titsworths’ view. That’s when Judy Titsworth began questioning the dock setbacks and permits.

        She took her concerns to city and state officials.

        Public works superintendent Joe Duennes said Titsworth’s concern is “another one of those situations” where there is sufficient land to support two houses. Although originally platted as one parcel, it was split into two lots using condominium law, he said, allowing for two separate homes.

        And, according to Duennes, two docks. Every waterfront home on a “legal lot” is entitled to a dock, he said.

        Sunrise Lane is zoned R-1, single family, residential, but the parcel was more than 15,020 square feet, sufficient to allow the lot split and enough land to provide for two homes, according to Duennes.

        While only one residence has been built so far, another is anticipated.

        “The owners have been contacted by the DEP and there is an issue,” Judy Titsworth said.

        “We’re giving parcel rights to units and making developers a lot of money,” she said.

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