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Dumping dirt in lake not okay, county finds

Published April 25, 2007


After looking a second time, Pinellas County officials have decided that a developer has wrongfully dumped fill onto protected wetlands.

The decision about the site of the former Women's Hospital came April 10 in an e-mail to Seminole city officials from Kelli Levy, an environmental program coordinator with the Pinellas County Watershed Management Division.

"After further inspection and survey, it has been determined that there are significant fill violations on the site," Levy wrote.

Levy declined to comment for this story. She referred questions to David Walker of the county, who is handling the situation. Walker was out of the office Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

Officials first discovered problems at the site at 9575 Seminole Blvd. in January when an anonymous caller contacted the county to complain that there was "an excavation of dirt from former Lake Seminole Hospital property into Lake Seminole." The caller said she saw work being done at night.

When an inspector visited the site, a worker reported that aquatic vegetation had been removed, concrete crushing had occurred and there was field mowing being done.

At the time, Swiftmud saw no reason to cite the owner. County officials apparently visited the site again and examined aerial views of the shoreline taken before and after the complaint was made, prompting them to rethink the decision.

In her e-mail, Levy said that the county contacted the property owner, Enterprise II of Florida LLC, which said the filling was allowed under a 1948 agreement for the creation of Lake Seminole. The former owner and the county signed the agreement, they said.

But Levy said that is no excuse.

"Other developers around the lake have tried the same thing and we have explained that all development must be approved under today's regulations, not what was in place in 1948," Levy wrote.

It is unclear what will happen next.

Neither Richard A. Robertson, the registered agent for Enterprise, nor Jewel Cole, the attorney who is handling the matter for the county, could be reached for comment Tuesday.

[Last modified April 24, 2007, 23:36:01]

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