Treasure Island hotels sue city and state DEP over beach concerns

TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. - Several Pinellas County hotels are suing the City of Treasure Island and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection over what they say are too many cars and disruption on the beach.

The hotels filing the lawsuit are The Thunderbird, Windjammer and Page Terrace.
They say their concern is that the cars are not only disruptive, but they leave rut marks, which disturb the creation of sand dunes and can also disturb sea turtle nesting season.
Also among the hoteliers' concerns are the large carnivals that take place on the beach certain days of the year.
They hired Dr. Robert Young, a professor of coastal geology, to make their case.
"With a new management plan for this beach it would have significantly reduced activity and would end beach driving and parking and semis on the beach," Dr. Young said.
ABC Action News contacted city attorney Maura Keefer, who said the case is "completely without merit, and we've filed to have it dismissed in March," she said. "The events typically only last 15 to 16 days out of 365 days a year."
The hotels insist the formation of sand dunes is vital to the natural defense barrier that the beach provides.
"You build these beaches in order to provide a storm buffer for the communities behind them," Dr. Young said.
The city argued that its beach stewardship program is among one of the best in the state, and said the hotels are concerned with revenue and don't want the carnival activity on the beach adjacent to their property.
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