Holmes Beach wonders, ‘Whodunit?’

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A notice posted Nov. 30, 2020, near the beach access at 48th Street in Holmes Beach indicates the illegal cutting of protected vegetation. The city code compliance and police departments were looking for the offender as of Dec. 31. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Allen

It’s a detective mystery in the making.

Holmes Beach is looking for a plant-whacking culprit.

Seagrapes, state-protected trees, were cut to the ground along the north side of the beach access at 48th Street.

And the city was offering a $500 reward to anyone who could provide information.

On Nov. 30, 2020, the city cited the owner of the property adjoining the north side of the beach access in the 100 block of 48th Street, developer Shawn Kaleta, for damages to protected vegetation, according to Florida Department of Environmental Protection standards.

The DEP followed suit Dec. 1, 2020, citing Kaleta for the offense.

But the landscaping company that did the deed is yet to be determined.

The Holmes Beach Police Department and code compliance were inquiring about any possible involvement by a landscape contractor.

“I approach any of the landscaping companies that don’t have labels on their trucks,” JT Thomas, city code compliance director, said Dec. 30. “I get out and ask them, ‘Do you know anything about this?’”

Thomas also said the contractor that cut the seagrapes left the debris behind, which amounts to illegal dumping.

“That is bad practice,” he said. “They are just trying to get away with doing something without stepping up and being responsible, if it was an honest mistake.”

Thomas said he spoke with landscaping crews working on other properties in an attempt to determine the business or crew responsible for the violation.

“We are still investigating,” he said. “We are now asking for help from the community to determine who did it.”

Thomas is hoping his department can get to the bottom of this whodunit.