New construction rises in Cortez waterway

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A structure in the water between the Cortez Bridge and A.P. Bell Fish Co. nears completion. It is expected to be used for seagrass experiments, a workshop and storage. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

Karen Bell didn’t have much to say in mid-May about ongoing construction in Sarasota Bay not far from the A.P. Bell Fish Co. docks and the Cortez shoreline.

Cortez artist Linda Molto says she wants to know what’s going on.

“Everybody is wondering and no one knows,” she said.

Raymond Leslie Guthrie Jr. and Capt. Tom Mora built the structure and they’re using it for storage and a workshop, according to Mora.

Guthrie said he plans to conduct seagrass experiments at night.

The structure is in Sarasota Bay — not attached to land — an Outstanding Florida Waterway and a national estuary.

Molto wondered, “Aren’t there building restrictions?”

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which regulates submerged lands, is unaware of any permits, Shannon Herbon, DEP media relations spokeswoman, wrote in a May 25 email.

The DEP is looking to determine whether the land beneath the structure is state or privately owned before it evaluates what regulations apply, she added.

Florida is the owner of submerged lands along the coast not otherwise held by a private landowner.

Bell owns A.P. Bell Fish Co., which runs grouper and stone crab boats and markets, producing a daily catch that is sold locally and internationally, and leases submerged lands from the state.

But the new structure is not part of that lease, Bell said.

The submerged lands where the house is built could be grandfathered into Bell’s ownership or owned by Guthrie, also known as Junior.

Bell also said Guthrie told her it once had been a net camp in his family and she “wasn’t going to dispute that,” but considers the remnants of historic net camps as belonging to the Cortez community.

Photographs at the Cortez-based Florida Maritime Museum show net camps — small wooden shacks that stored nets and provided temporary shelter for fishers — and net spreads — broad wooden platforms on the water where fishers dried and mended their nets — peppering the Cortez shoreline in the early part of century.

Molto said there’s been only one net camp in the water in the 30 years she’s lived in Cortez — a short distance from the Few-Miller Dock, east of the new construction.

Cortez fishermen Joe Capo and Curt Johns originally built the remaining net house before 1960, according to a FMM website article, “Net Fishing in Cortez.”

Storms destroyed the remaining camps, which fell into disrepair, no longer needed after monofilament line replaced the cotton webbing in the older nets.

5 thoughts on “New construction rises in Cortez waterway

  1. Lisa Mora

    No, Sir, YOU are the one who is the joke. If you have ever spoken to (not ABOUT) or even were slightly acquainted with either Mr Guthrie OR Mr Mora you would (without a doubt) know that NEITHER ONE is either afraid or troubled with voicing their opinion or “telling it like it is.” If Mr Guthrie says it is sea grass labs, storage and a workshop than that is what it is! You say that you have been in the net camp since he has been working on it?? I find that rather interesting as well as your KNOWING that Mr Guthrie has been informed that his house boat docked at Fulford’s for the last 15 years (the one you KNOW he lives aboard) has to be moved Hummm, Tell me, son, just WHERE in the hell do you get your “news” from?!?! Inquiring minds want to know! Just as with the tree house on the Island, this shouldn’t even be an issue or a problem for ANYONE because really, right now what Mr Guthrie or Mr Mora does on that platform that was ALREADY THERE is(to put it in layman’s terms) NONE OF OUR BUSINESS. Where was your comments when Glen (Rabbit) Brooks was building out there 10 years ago….I never heard a peep of accusation that he was NOT building Clam beds or any static about thr underwater plumbing that went from Bells to there then….how ’bout it? Does that net camp belong to the Guthrie family? WHO KNOWS ?!? The Capt. Dan is Trigger Mora’s hull though, I’m sure he doesn’t care what is being done with it anymore….I guess you thought it looked fine half sunk and rotting away. And have you ANY idea how much human waste all these yachts dump up and down the bay or how much waste gets dumped from the hospitals into our waters? You want something to complain about, get on their case. Or how about this: MIND YOUR BUSINESS! I’m sure THAT will be a switch.

    Reply
  2. Bob Melvin

    That is a Joke! With all the press on a tree house built outside of the code on the beach and now you have someone who is building a “home” to live in over the water with no underwater rights! No matter what he says about his past family having a net camp “out there, somewhere’, you still have to abide by the laws. The truth is he is having to move his houseboat which he lives in at the old Fulford fish house (owned by Karen Bell & Family) so he decides to make his home there. Let’s see…2 bedroom/I bath, kitchen, running water from the mainland(hmmmm), generator, LP tank, tankless water heater, full electric throughout, and not to mention a septic tank! He is using the sunk Capt. Dan hull which is full of rock/sand to “filter sewage then over flow that into “our” bay! I have been in it and its no nightly seagrass lab! NO PERMITS of any kind! The Florida DEP needs to jump all over this!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Mora

      No, Sir, YOU are the one who is the joke. If you have ever spoken to (not ABOUT) or even were slightly acquainted with either Mr Guthrie OR Mr Mora you would (without a doubt) know that NEITHER ONE is either afraid or troubled with voicing their opinion or “telling it like it is.” If Mr Guthrie says it is sea grass labs, storage and a workshop than that is what it is! You say that you have been in the net camp since he has been working on it?? I find that rather interesting as well as your KNOWING that Mr Guthrie has been informed that his house boat docked at Fulford’s for the last 15 years (the one you KNOW he lives aboard) has to be moved Hummm, Tell me, son, just WHERE in the hell do you get your “news” from?!?! Inquiring minds want to know! Just as with the tree house on the Island, this shouldn’t even be an issue or a problem for ANYONE because really, right now what Mr Guthrie or Mr Mora does on that platform that was ALREADY THERE is(to put it in layman’s terms) NONE OF OUR BUSINESS. Where was your comments when Glen (Rabbit) Brooks was building out there 10 years ago….I never heard a peep of accusation that he was NOT building Clam beds or any static about thr underwater plumbing that went from Bells to there then….how ’bout it? Does that net camp belong to the Guthrie family? WHO KNOWS ?!? The Capt. Dan is Trigger Mora’s hull though, I’m sure he doesn’t care what is being done with it anymore….I guess you thought it looked fine half sunk and rotting away. And have you ANY idea how much human waste all these yachts dump up and down the bay or how much waste gets dumped from the hospitals into our waters? You want something to complain about, get on their case. Or how about this: MIND YOUR BUSINESS! I’m sure THAT will be a switch.

      Reply

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