NewsPinellas County


Clearwater condo owners and association at odds over sand and vegetation removal

Posted at 9:07 AM, Dec 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-13 10:18:26-05

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Cindy Dervech and her neighbors woke up to the sound of workmen and a man in a Bobcat removing sand and vegetation from the Dune field behind the Regatta Beach Club in North Clearwater Beach.

"We saw them clearing everything out Monday morning," Dervech said. "This time they went too far."

She and more than a dozen of her neighbors reached out to city and state officials looking for answers.

"It was phenomenal. Everyone called Tallahassee leaving message, after message, after message," said Victor Veschio.

According to Alex Volinsky, the chairman of the Regatta building advisory committee, the condo association approved the work. He said it started as a beach cleaning project, "removing the weeds, clearing out wasps nests, and other trash."

"What happened is we discovered one pipe. Then we realized that was part of the ongoing flooding problem that we never had a solution to for a long time," he said. "Those drains are impacted [by the sand.]"

Volinsky said the association gave them permission to remove the sand from the sea wall away from the pipes and storm drains.

However, the association didn't have permission to approve that work.

"You need to get permission from the state," said Veschio.

We asked the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). A spokesperson confirmed that the work was done without a permit and that is in violation of state law.

The DEP tells ABC Action News that they are investigating, and this could result in a fine for the Regatta Beach Club.

"We're going to end up flipping the bill for something that our board and committee members decided to do on their own," said Veschio.