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Date of Issue: April 28, 2005

Anna Maria coastal dune focus of administrative hearing

The question of whether a sand dune on the beach at Pine Avenue in Anna Maria City is a vital element of the beach or merely an inconsequential mound of sand will be determined by an administrative law judge within two months.

Nancy and Randolph Brown, 104 Pine Ave., requested permission to build a new home, complete with pool and deck, on their Gulffront property. As part of the process, they received a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to build on a heavily vegetated dune.

The Brown property is on the north side of Pine Avenue, opposite the Sandbar restaruant on the beachfront.

Neighbors Pamela and Ronnie Young and Lisa Schrutt, objected to the DEP permit, saying there would be "significant adverse impacts to the beach-dune areas" and to their adjacent properties.

Brown's attorney, William Hyde, argued that the dune served little purpose as far as coastal protection. Its elevation was lower than nearby beach areas and the coastal profile indicated the frontal dune was actually much farther seaward than the dune on the Brown property.

Mark Nelson, representing Young-Schrutt, argued that the dune was important in maintaining the integrity of the beach and protecting the nearby properties from flooding during storms.

Dr. Michael Stephen, a coastal geologist from Naples, argued that the dune, at about 8 feet in elevation, was large for Southwest Florida. "I believe the Brown structure will be located such that it will both cover and excavate the dune feature and remove vegetation, and thus have a negative cumulative impact," he said, adding "I do not believe the DEP had the information needed to do its job" regarding its issuance of a permit to build on the property.

Randolph Brown testified that if he were to build his new, elevated home, it would "most definitely" block the view of the Youngs and Schrutt, who live more landward than his property.

Administrative Law Judge T. Kent Wetherell II will review the testimony and submissions and provide a recommended order on the matter in about two months.