Altering sand dunes behind Clearwater Beach home being investigated by DEP and FWC

A permit is needed for dune work

CLEARWATER, Fla. - "To take a bulldozer and rearrange the sand to suit their convenience is not right," said Jerry Vazquez of Clearwater Beach.

Vazquez is not happy about what took place behind an Eldorado Avenue home on North Clearwater Beach ten days ago. Neither is Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos.

"Just because you want a little better view of the Gulf of Mexico doesn't give you the right to destroy a sand dune," said Cretekos.

Nearby residents took pictures of the heavy equipment being used to alter the dunes and called police.  

Cretekos explained, "The police responded immediately.  We got in touch with DEP,  and their investigation has revealed that no permit had been issued this time."

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is responsible for issuing permits to residents that request to make even minor changes to dunes, even if the dunes are on their property.

Back in 2011, at the same address, a permit was issued by DEP for work to be done within the limited scope of the permit. This time, after the city contacted DEP, a field investigator was dispatched and detailed in a report that nearly 500 cubic yards of vegetated sand dune was allegedly excavated without a permit.

"That report is currently under review. Any potential regulatory enforcement from DEP is still yet to be determined," Dee Ann Miller of the DEP said in a statement.

FWC is also investigating the incident to determine whether fines or criminal charges will be filed against the homeowner.

Regardless of who does the enforcement, beach residents just want it to stop.

"If the guy next door sees that the guy next door got a $5,000 fine for bringing a tractor and moving a dune, he's not likely to do it," explained Vazquez.

The city says this case is an example of how citizen involvement can help solve problems at the state enforcement level.

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