A.P. Bell, DEP cancel June courthouse hearing

A June 3 court hearing came off the docket at the end of May in the case of A.P. Bell Fish Co. v. the Florida Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund and the Department of Environmental Protection.

One of A.P. Bell’s attorneys, Jennifer Perez Alonzo of Beasley, Demos and Brown of Coral Gables, filed the notice with the 12th Circuit Court in light of the parties’ agreement to cancel.

The board of trustees, comprising the governor and his cabinet, manage public lands for the state. The DEP administers and enforces the state’s environmental laws and regulations.

There was no court date as of May 30.

Up for hearing was a motion to strike A.P. Bell defenses by the state agencies and the fish company’s motion to strike the defendants’ defenses.

A.P. Bell sued the DEP and Board of Trustees in May 2018, claiming ownership of submerged land in Sarasota Bay under a 1,200-square-foot structure that Raymond Guthrie Jr. built in 2017. The location is about 350 feet from A.P. Bell docks.

A.P. Bell and Guthrie claim the house with air conditioning and a metal roof built on pilings should be grandfathered by the state because it was built where a Guthrie family net camp once existed. They also contend the structure was once connected to the mainland.

However, the state maintains Guthrie built a structure larger than any prior structure on sovereign land, without permits and after warnings to remove the structure.

In a DEP enforcement case, Judge Edward Nicholas entered a judgment against Guthrie in February requiring the structure’s removal and a $6,500 payment for costs and fines. He stayed enforcement of the decision pending the outcome of the A.P. Bell case.

Kathy Prucnell