Refining and redefining citizenship in Sarasota County, Florida.
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Developer Above the Law
Pat Neal seems to think he can proceed with his controversial Perico Island project prior to and independent of legal permission:
Two days from mediation, Neal starts controversial construction on Perico Island
Bradenton Herald, Matt Johnson
PERICO ISLAND -- Two days before he's scheduled to go to court mediation over a wetland filling project, Pat Neal stood on a silty shoreline clearing to watch the first pieces of storm sewer pipe go into the ground at his newest, smallest and perhaps most controversial housing development.
The construction is the first stage of work at Harbor Sound, a four-home subdivision that Neal, chairman of Lakewood Ranch-based Neal Communities, is building for members of his family.
Under challenge for nearly a year, the project has raised the ire of local environmental groups because it includes about an acre of shore wetlands Neal wants to fill for the homes he plans to build. Those groups, which include Suncoast Waterkeeper, Sierra Club, the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage and Manasota-88, have lined up to oppose a Southwest Florida Water Management District permit that will allow that filling to happen. Former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash has headed the effort.
Even though that permit is now in dispute and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has yet to sign off on a second permit required to do the work, Neal is starting construction. He said he does not believe he will be denied permission to do the wetland work.
"I feel, ultimately, we will prevail," he said Monday. "If need be, we'll go to the highest court that has jurisdiction."