A view of Beer Can Island across Longboat Pass looking from the Longboat Bridge shows the east side, where boaters congregate, is eroding, as the western shore on the Gulf of Mexico and Longboat Pass also erodes. Islander File Photo: Jo Ann Meilner
Former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash — a Bradenton resident and Anna Maria Island property owner — has petitioned the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for an administrative hearing on the department’s proposed dredging and groin construction in Longboat Pass.
The project generates from the town of Longboat Key and calls for a joint coastal permit and authorization to use sovereign submerged lands by the town.
McClash claims the installation of the proposed man-made structures has been done without proper public notice and will harm the recreation lands he uses and thousands of others, who also have not had the benefit of knowing about this permit action.
And McClash disputes the DEP claim that “coastal construction authorized by the department shall have a net positive benefit to the coastal system,” and that the public would continue to enjoy its traditional uses of the pass and adjoining and submerged lands.
McClash said a proposed seawall along the south shore of the pass would erode the popular Beer Can Island, also known as Greer Island, at the northern tip of Longboat Key where boaters often anchor during the day.
“The facts are evident natural islands change over the years. Beer Can Island is larger today than at the time it was conveyed to Manatee County. Placing any man-made structure will be in violation of the conditions or the spirit of what was envisioned and required,” McClash said in the petition.
The DEP, however, claims the beach there is “critically eroded,” and construction of a concrete seawall will “maintain essentially natural conditions.”
Although the project is proposed by Longboat Key and not Manatee County, it concerns land owned by the county. If an administrative hearing is ordered, Manatee County would be represented at the hearing.
Administrative hearings are held before an administrative law judge, who makes a determination based upon the facts presented.
No date for the hearing has been established, and McClash said he has not had a reply from the DEP.
When McClash was a county commissioner, he expressed opposition to the project, he said.
McClash added he also will send an objection to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is involved in the project and must issue a permit before construction begins.