Saturday, September 30, 2017

Gov. Scott gives Aronberg extra year to investigate Hendry sheriff (Palm Beach Post) on coverup charges

Henry County Shriff STEVE WHIDDEN and Chief Deputy KEVIN NELSON are embroiled in a probable obstruction of justice to make hit-and-run charges involving an F-150 hitting a 15-year old girl on her way to the school bus stop. It appears that the mendacious Hendry County Sheriff put the fix in, with no charges brought against RICHARD SMITH, "never charged in traffic incident. At the time of the crash, he was just days away from beginning a 41-month federal prison sentence for his role in a scheme where he and three others pleaded guilty to charges they fraudulently claimed they were converting animal fat and vegetable oil into high quality renewable fuel so they could collect millions in bio-diesel tax credits. He is still in prison."
Thanks to Dave Aronberg for his work on the WHIDDEN-NELSON coverup of the RICHARD SMITH hit-and=run of a fifteen year old child.
We need someone with guts, like Dave Aronberg as special prosecutor for St. Johns County corruption, starting with Sheriff DAVID SHOAR, who had his name changed from "HOAR" in 1994.

Gov. Scott gives Aronberg extra year to investigate Hendry sheriff

Daphne Duret Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
7:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 Palm Beach Post

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg

Florida Governor Rick Scott has given Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg an additional year to look into allegations that Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden and one of his top deputies tried to cover up a convicted felon’s involvement in a hit-and-run crash that injured a teenage girl.

The governor last year assigned Aronberg’s office to look into claims of allegations of “misfeasance, malfeasance, and gross misconduct” against Whidden and Chief Deputy Sheriff Kevin Nelson. An officer in Whidden’s department claimed in a sworn statement in August 2016 that the two thwarted his efforts to investigate Richard Smith, a man the officer believed caused a crash that injured a 15-year-old girl walking to a school bus stop in Labelle on Sept. 11, 2015.

Prosecutors in the Hendry County Circuit asked the governor to give the case to prosecutors in another area because the state attorney for Hendry County has a working relationship with the sheriff and because one of the office’s chief assistant state attorneys is a former law partner of the attorney for the girl’s family, who is suing Smith’s insurance company.

Aronberg’s jurisdiction in the case was set to expire this Friday but he asked for more time to decide whether the case warranted criminal charges, according to Sept. 13 extension order from Scott’s office.

“The Assigned State Attorney has advised the Governor that the duties required by the previous executive assignment have not yet been completed as the case is still pending and under review,” reads the order, which extended Aronberg’s jurisdiction to Sept. 29, 2018.

So far, the only publicly released documents about the cover-up allegations are in the form of an August 2016 sworn statement that Hendry County sheriff’s deputy Vernon Speak gave as part of the girl’s lawsuit.

With a broken passenger-side rear-view mirror from a white Ford F-150 as his only evidence, Speak said that it took him and other officers nearly two weeks to track down Smith by watching for an F-150 traveling near where the incident occurred. They eventually made a traffic stop of Smith, who told them he had been driving in the area at the time of the accident and hit something that broke off his mirror. Smith told Speak he thought he’d hit a mailbox but found nothing when he returned to the area several times.

The deputy said he didn’t believe Smith’s story and began to confront him with the inconsistencies, but by then, Smith had called the sheriff personally on his cell phone. According to Speak’s 2016 sworn statement, Whidden called Speak before the deputy could question Smith further.

In Speak’s sworn statement, he also said the sheriff told Smith he didn’t have to show up for a later interview Speak had scheduled with him and was furious that the deputy kept questioning Smith.

“He was red in the face and angry and told me that I made him look like a [expletive] [expletive],” Speak said of a subsequent meeting with Whidden, according to the sworn statement.

At that meeting, Whidden and Nelson expressed their dismay that Speak had included Whidden’s name and contact with Smith in a report on the case, the sworn statement said. The two are also accused of failing to send the report to prosecutors after they decided to close the case.

Smith was never charged in traffic incident. At the time of the crash, he was just days away from beginning a 41-month federal prison sentence for his role in a scheme where he and three others pleaded guilty to charges they fraudulently claimed they were converting animal fat and vegetable oil into high quality renewable fuel so they could collect millions in bio-diesel tax credits. He is still in prison.

Citing the open investigation, Whidden and officials from his department have declined to comment to The Palm Beach Post about the matter, but Whidden previously publicly denied allegations of any wrongdoing in the case and said the case against Smith was closed because there wasn’t enough evidence against him.

Gov. Scott gives Aronberg extra year to investigate Hendry sheriff

EXCLUSIVE: Aronberg probe of Hendry sheriff’s alleged misconduct nears deadline
LOCAL By Daphne Duret - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer ...

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg has been assigned by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to investigate “misfeasance, malfeasance, and gross misconduct” allegations against Hendry County Sheriff Steven Whidden. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
Posted: 1:22 p.m. Saturday, August 26, 2017

On a Friday morning two years ago, just before sunrise, a 15-year-old girl ambled along a well-worn footpath in the grass on the north side of a sparsely tree-lined stretch of Nobles Road, heading toward her bus stop to get to school.

She would later tell Hendry County sheriff’s deputies that she never saw the pickup as it veered into the path directly behind her. It hit her hard enough that she fell over into a nearby ditch. She looked up in time to see a white truck speed away, but nothing more.

Less than two hours later, she sat in the school nurse’s office, bruised and swollen. Her parents were on their way, still reeling from the shock that their daughter was the victim of an apparent hit-and-run.

Their attorney says they were even less prepared for what happened next.

Within weeks, they learned their daughter’s case was the center of an alleged cover-up involving a convicted felon who owes the federal government millions for a bio-diesel fuel scheme and the Hendry County sheriff himself — a man whom Palm Beach County’s top prosecutor now holds the power to potentially put behind bars.

READ: Gov. Scott’s order assigning State Attorney Dave Aronberg to investigate Hendry County Sheriff Steven Whidden

“I expected to be sent home without a job,” Hendry County sheriff’s deputy Vernon Speak, the deputy assigned to the girl’s case, testified in a sworn statement last year when he was asked about a meeting he had with supervisors about his investigation. He said they were upset about the report he wrote regarding the alleged hit-and-run.

Their problem?

Speak had listed Hendry County Sheriff Steven Whidden by name in his report, not as the county’s top lawman, but as the prime suspect’s chief intercessor.

+ Hendry County Sheriff Steven Whidden photo PALM BEACH POST STAFF WRITER
Hendry County Sheriff Steven Whidden
In the sworn statement, which Speak gave on Aug. 10, 2016 to the girl’s attorney, the deputy laid out his version of how the investigation of the traffic incident and its aftermath proceeded:

With no eyewitnesses besides the girl, who could only say a white truck had hit her, Speak said he initially had few leads to pursue outside a passenger side mirror, left at the scene after it apparently broke off from the impact. He suspected the part belonged to a Ford truck, so he took it to Langford Ford in LaBelle.

Workers there were able to pinpoint the mirror as having come from a 2011-2014 Ford F-150, either an XLT or Lariat model. Deputies issued an alert for a white Ford F-150 fitting that description, checked with local repair shops and dealerships to see if anyone had come in asking for a new mirror of that type, and checked back with the 15-year-old for more potential clues after her parents brought her home from the hospital.

When that failed to produce any leads, Speak said he and another deputy helped investigators patrol for a potential suspect. A break in the case came 11 days after the Sept. 11, 2015 incident, when Speak and another deputy parked their cars near the scene just after 6 a.m. and watched a white Ford F-150 blow past a stop sign along the roadway.

They pulled the truck over and quickly identified the driver as Richard Smith, a 58-year-old man Speak would later learn was just days away from beginning a 41-month federal prison sentence for his role in a scheme where he and three others pleaded guilty to charges they fraudulently claimed they were converting animal fat and vegetable oil into high quality renewable fuel so they could collect millions in bio-diesel tax credits.

Speak’s side

In his 2016 statement, Speak said Smith seemed immediately agitated when he was pulled over, and behaved so aggressively he thought the two of them would come to blows. On Smith’s passenger side door was a seemingly brand new mirror. The part was conspicuously clean, Speak testified, while the rest of the truck was dirty.

Smith, Speak said, told him he was late for work in Everglades City and wanted to be let go immediately. But he admitted having hit something on the road during the day in question, according to Speak’s police report from September 2015. Smith said he had come back later and found garbage cans and a broken mailbox in the road and assumed that was what he’d hit, the report said.

But just as Speak was telling Smith there were no mailboxes at the side of the road, he heard his fellow deputy on the phone with someone who was asking to talk to him. When he got on the phone, Speak learned the sheriff himself was on the line, according to Speak’s sworn statement.

Speak said he explained to Whidden that he’d found a suspect in the hit and run, a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

“And he said, ‘Yeah, I just talked to him. He’s in a hurry to get to work. Can you get him out of there?’” Speak recalled the sheriff as saying, according to the statement.

Speak testified that he insisted to Whidden that he needed to talk to Smith for his investigation, but the sheriff was equally insistent in his command that Speak wrap up his conversation with Smith and “set something up for later.”

Speak said he promised he would, and after reading Smith his Miranda rights and asking him a few more questions, he let Smith go after Smith promised to come to the station and talk further to an investigator by 4 p.m. that day.

By the end of the day, Speak said, Smith never showed, so the deputy went home and completed a report on the incident. The next day, as he headed to the gun range, he found Whidden waiting for him outside. Angry.

Speak testified in his statement that Whidden told him he thought the deputy had understood from his phone call that the case was to go nowhere, and that he shouldn’t have pulled Smith out of the car and questioned him after Whidden told him to let the man go. “He was red in the face and angry and told me that I made him look like a [expletive] [expletive],” Speak said.

Speak testified he told Whidden that Smith had essentially confessed and agreed to come back to the station later to give a more thorough statement, but the deputy said Whidden in turn reiterated there would be no investigation and told Speak that he had personally told Smith not to come to the station.

According to Speak’s sworn statement:

The deputy and the sheriff briefly discussed the facts of the case, with the sheriff saying Smith came back to the scene and that no one could prove he intended to leave the scene of a crash with an injury, but Speak said he stuck to his assessment that he thought it was a viable case.

What made matters worse, Speak said, is that he had already filed his report by then. He said after Whidden read it the morning of their gun range encounter, the sheriff was “lit.” Speak said the sheriff never explained what his connection was with Smith.

“He just said he’s a good guy and he’s in a bad spot and he’s going to prison for something that’s not really fair, and this is going to make it harder for him,” Speak said.

Later, Speak said, he learned that a lieutenant had added a supplement to his report, saying that deputies were unable to prove the case “beyond a reasonable doubt” — a determination usually only made by prosecutors.

Palm Beach County role

The hit-and-run case was eventually referred to the state attorney for Hendry County, but there’s a dispute about how that happened. Whidden would later tell a Fort Myers television station that his office referred the case, but Steven Ramunni, the attorney for the victim’s family, told The Palm Beach Post the sheriff did so after Ramunni informed the state attorney’s office about the case.

Ramunni said the girl’s family received an anonymous call telling them that there was a report about their daughter’s case that they should request. He said that after the 20th Circuit State Attorney’s Office, which covers Hendry and three other counties, also decided not to seek charges against Smith, he took Speak’s report to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and filed a lawsuit on behalf of the girl’s family against Smith’s insurance company.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott assigned the investigation to Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s office last year after 20th Circuit State Attorney Stephen B. Russell decided his office had a conflict of interest because of its close working relationship with the sheriff’s office, according to Scott’s executive order. The order asks for the investigation because of allegations of “misfeasance, malfeasance, and gross misconduct” made against Whidden.

Palm Beach State Attorney’s office spokesman Mike Edmondson confirmed this week that Aronberg’s office was in charge of the potential prosecution in the case and that the investigation is still active. But he said the office’s policy is to not comment on active investigations.

Aronberg’s jurisdiction ends on Sept. 29, but he has until Tuesday to notify the governor if he needs more time, according to Scott’s executive order.

However, sources close to the case say FDLE officials have concluded their investigation.

Whidden’s response

In response to phone calls to Whidden from The Post, Hendry sheriff’s Capt. Susan Harrelle said Friday that Whidden had no comment, citing the open investigation.

Last year, in an interview with the Fort Myers-based CBS affiliate WINK News, Whidden denied the claims Speak made in his August 2016 statement, which was taken as part of the girl’s lawsuit against Smith’s insurance company.

Whidden in the televised interview described Smith as an acquaintance and said he didn’t know at the time of the hit-and-run investigation that Smith was a convicted felon on his way to the federal penitentiary in Miami-Dade County, where he remains.

“I have never in my life told a deputy to stop an investigation, never,” Whidden said, later adding: “We did everything by the book.”

If Smith’s case lands Whidden in legal trouble, it would mark just the latest in a history of trouble for Hendry County’s top lawmen.

In August 1980, a 15-year-old Clewiston teen stabbed Hendry County Sheriff Earl Sermon Dyess Sr. while Dyess was investigating what he thought was suspicious activity at a car dealership behind his home. Dyess’ son, Sermon Dyess Jr., took over his father’s job until 1993, when he pleaded guilty to helping his best friend and another friend smuggle 8,000 kilos of cocaine onto a ranch near Clewiston.

The younger Dyess was sentenced to 17 years in prison, but was released nearly a decade ago and lives in Clewiston.

According to the Hendry County Sheriff’s website, Whidden, a graduate of Naples High School, began his law enforcement career at the Albany Police Department in New York. After two years there, he transferred to the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, spent six years there and worked another four years for the Clewiston Police Department before serving two years on a special DEA task force. He was elected Hendry County Sheriff in 2008 and won reelection last year with 60 percent of the vote.

During his three terms in office, Whidden has touted making cutbacks in his administrative offices to hire more deputies to patrol the streets. Six months after Smith’s traffic incident, Whidden announced his candidacy for reelection and listed among his accomplishments the placement of school resource officers in every public school in the county.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Homeless Claim They Were Segregated and Shamed During Irma (AP)

This is a big deal despite today's condescending St. Augustine Record editorial by Fishing Columnist and Opinion Editor JAMES SUTTON, a disciple of the late segregationist former St. Augustine Record Publisher and former Flagler College VP, the late A.H. "Hoppy" Tebeult, who taught SUTTON how to be a redneck country newspaper editor and ignore human suffering.

Homeless Claim They Were Segregated and Shamed During Irma

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Shelby Hoogendyk says that when she, her husband and her 17-month-old son arrived at an emergency shelter as Hurricane Irma closed in, they were separated from others by yellow wristbands and told to stay in an area with other people like them — the homeless.
Sheriff's deputies, she says, told them the wristbands were prompted by problems that arose among homeless people at the shelter during Hurricane Matthew a year earlier.
"We were treated like we were guilty criminals," Hoogendyk says.
Image Casey Huffman and Caelan Hoogendyk
Casey Huffman, with their 17 month-old son Caelan Hoogendyk at a hurricane shelter in St. Augustine, Florida. Shelby Hoogendyk / via AP
In the storm's wake, homeless people and their advocates are complaining that some of them were turned away, segregated from the others, denied cots and food, deprived of medication refills and doctors' visits, or otherwise ill-treated during the evacuation.
Many of the complaints have been blamed on misunderstandings, the sheer magnitude of the disaster, the crush of people needing shelter immediately, or inadequate state and local emergency planning.
All told, a record 72,000 Floridians sought refuge from the hurricane in early September at nearly 400 shelters. The response varied widely by county.
In Miami, over 700 homeless were picked up and taken to shelters. In Collier County, the sheriff sent officers into homeless encampments in the woods to bring people to a shelter. But in Polk County, Sheriff Grady Judd warned that any evacuees with warrants against them and all sex offenders seeking shelter would be taken to jail. And in Volusia County, some officials were accused of turning homeless evacuees away from shelters without explanation.
"Communities were all dealing with the fallout of not having very comprehensive planning in place to deal with this population," said Kirsten Anderson, litigation director at Southern Legal Counsel, a nonprofit public interest law firm in Florida.
She said if a shelter discriminated against people based on their economic status, it could be a violation of federal law that protects people in federal disaster zones.
Image: Margarita Lopez, right, as she looks at her phone and RS Steidle naps at a special needs shelter at Florida International University in Miami
Margarita Lopez, right, as she looks at her phone and RS Steidle naps at a special needs shelter at Florida International University in Miami, Florida on Sept. 14, 2017. Wilfredo Lee / AP
In Hoogendyk's case, St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar and school officials who ran the shelter at Pedro Menendez High vigorously denied segregating the homeless, saying the yellow wristbands were simply used to identify people with "special needs" — substance abuse problems, mental illness or other "frailties" — who needed to be closer to the bathrooms.
But Hoogendyk said neither she nor her husband claimed any special needs when they checked in. Other homeless people said they, too, were automatically issued the yellow wristbands, while others around them got blue or other colors denoting them as part of the "general population."
Gary Usry, a 57-year-old homeless man who arrived at the same St. Augustine shelter, said the first night was rough.
"We were left on concrete floor overnight. No blanket, no nothing," he said. Usry said a few cots were provided to people with wristbands of other colors, but not to any of the homeless in his yellow-band section. Usry said he felt "insulted, demeaned."
While insisting homeless people were not singled out, the sheriff also said that the homeless population has "a disproportionate representation of those with mental illness, substance abuse problems and, quite frankly, those with criminal backgrounds."
 Woman who evacuated from Irma now trapped by Maria in Puerto Rico 3:31
Sheriff's spokesman Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan said that last year, during Hurricane Matthew, there were numerous arguments, fights and instances of drunkenness among homeless people at the shelter.
Elsewhere around Florida, Robin Williams said she and about 60 others from the homeless-assistance group where she works, the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, spent their first night as evacuees sleeping on a cold, hard gymnasium floor with no cots, blankets or food. The glaring lights stayed on all night, she said.
Over the next few days, the 30 or so special-needs evacuees among them were shuffled to various locations.
Just down the road, hundreds of other evacuees from the Keys rested comfortably with cots, hot meals, free toiletries and showers, Williams said.
"What these people have been through borders on criminal," she said.
The group's interim executive director, Stephanie Kaple, said three of her medically fragile clients ended up in the hospital after bouncing from place to place, wondering where they would sleep or if they would be fed. One case was a direct result of the stress, she said.
Kaple said that when she asked why some of her special-needs evacuees were sleeping on the floor, she was told that many of the cots were still being used in Houston, which was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey.
"I think there were places that the ball just got dropped," she said.
Image: Shelby Hoogendyk and her son Caelan Hoogendyk
Shelby Hoogendyk and her 17 month-old son Caelan, at the St. Francis House in St. Augustine, Florida on Sept. 22. Jason Dearen / AP
In the county's defense, Sheryl Graham, a senior director with Monroe County Social Services, said officials got barraged with last-minute requests from hundreds of people asking to be added to the special-needs registry, and it took precious manpower to contact and screen each one to make sure they were assigned to the correct shelter.
Special-needs evacuees are those who require assistance beyond what is provided at an ordinary shelter. Some might use an oxygen tank or wheelchair, for example. Medical assistance, which can include doctors' visits and medication, must be made available at such shelters. That's why special-needs evacuees must register beforehand.
But execution seemed to break down during Irma. Kaple said it was not until four days after the storm that her medically needy clients started getting doctors' visits, medications, showers and regular meals.
Lawanda Tobler, a bus driver for Volusia County who took part in the evacuation efforts, said a shelter at New Smyrna Beach High School refused to take a homeless person when they arrived, offering no other explanation than that he was homeless.
Tobler was then sent to a Salvation Army shelter where they "wouldn't even open the door and there were over a dozen homeless people at the site looking for shelter," she said.
Emails and a call to the Salvation Army were not immediately returned.
The Rev. Jeffrey Dove said that after the storm, he headed to New Smyrna Beach's community center with about 30 homeless evacuees, only to be told by the city manager "we were not welcome."
When one of the homeless evacuees asked the city manager why they couldn't eat and shower there, "she looked at him in a very condescending way and stated that he did not pay taxes," Dove said.
New Smyrna Beach City Manager Pam Brangaccio said Dove's people were turned away because they included three "unknown homeless men" and because children were there and city maintenance employees were being fed at the time.
She said she and Dove have since apologized to each over after their heated conversation and are now working together to hold a summit on homelessness.
Volusia County spokeswoman Joanne Magley said all those who needed a place were provided with shelter. She said everyone had to produce identification to get in, and those who had no ID or were homeless were sent to separate shelters for the homeless.
"If you don't have an ID and we can't do a background check, how do you know if someone is a sex offender?" she said. "You can't just let anyone into a general population shelter." 

Shahab Derazi Seeks to build in wetland; hired unlicensed contractor that built failing balcony railing, with $1.1 million Duval jury verdict

Shahab Derazi, an applicant seeking a zoning variance to destroy trees, build in a wetland and build a dock was found liable for construction negligence in a $1.1 million jury verdict, involving hiring an unlicensed contractor to build a balcony railing.  

The applicant appears before St. Augustine PZB on October 3, 2017 at 2PM.  He's already had three continuances.

Here's the facts on the application and and then some details on the personal injury verdict:

6. Conservation Overlay Zone Development 
(a) 2017-0057 Shahab Derazi – Applicant  Styles OP LLC 
Shahab Derazi – Owner  -- Styles OP LLC 
709 South Ponce de Leon Boulevard 
To construct a dock within Conservation Overlay Zone 1; to approve a building(s) within Conservation Overlay Zone 2, and to remove preserved tree(s) within Conservation Overlay Zone 3.
(Continued May 2, 2017)
(Continued July 11, 2017)
(Continued September 5, 2017)

Duval County Jury Awards $1.1 Million Verdict in Teen's Balcony Fall Injury Case

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SOURCE Avera & Smith
Majority of the Award for Plaintiff's Pain and Suffering
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.July 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- A Duval County jury has handed down a $1,105,000 verdict in favor of Amanda Fournier for the broken neck she suffered at age 17 from falling through the faulty railing of a residential balcony.
Avera & Smith Attorneys at Law
Fournier, now 21, was an incoming freshman at University of North Florida at the time of the fall. She was attending a fraternity party at a rented Jacksonville residence owned by Shahab Derazi.
"Through our investigation and in subsequent testimony we clearly showed the jury that the railing was not properly affixed to the second floor balcony according to code nor by the manufacturer's instructions," said Mark Avera, Partner, Avera & Smith. "The owner also failed to have a professional inspection of the balcony and railing, a structure that presented an extremely dangerous circumstance ultimately causing Amanda's devastating fall and injury."
Avera & Smith attorneys Mark Avera and Rod Smith demonstrated to the jury that Derazi hired an unlicensed contractor to repair the balcony and inspect the railing three months before the fall, and that the contractor never secured a permit for the job. Avera asserted that an inspection by a building official would have very likely identified the dangerous condition of the balcony railing.
Fournier, who suffered compression fractures to vertebrae in her neck and back, required a two-level fusion of her cervical spine as a result of the fall, followed by extensive physical therapy. It's probable she will require additional surgery in the future.
Avera & Smith has represented Floridians for more than 60 years with a legacy of personal service and genuine care for clients and the local community. for more information.
©2017 PR Newswire. All Rights Reserved.

PHYSICIAN, HEAL THIS DUNE: Bulldozer Damaged Dune, Homeowner Gets FDEP Ultimatum -- Flagler Hospital Medical Staff President, JAMES MICHAEL GRIMES, M.D.

Dr. JAMES MICHAEL GRIMES, M.D. must answer a Florida environmental regulatory demand letter asking about  a 10x30 foot hole carved in a protected sand dune in violation of Florida environmental law, asking him to restore it.  The dune, at #2 Twelfth Lane, is east of GRIMES' beach cottage controlled by an LLC of which GRIMES is the only listed manager.

FDEP inspected on September 17th.  It sent GRIMES a September 27th letter directing him to restore the dune or face consequences.   The dune destruction was a featured story on Jacksonville tv news stations and the St. Augustine Record.  Florida law forbids destruction of dunes by a coastal property owner.  The law helps protect our homes from storm surge, protect wildlife and enjoy our beaches.

Will Florida law enforcement be tough on any environmental crimes?  Will there be kid gloves treatment of environmental crimes allegedly committed, suffered or permitted by GRIMES and his LLC.  The damage was done during hurricane season, at a time when it could have caused flooding.

While gaps in dunes were temporally filled during the storm to prevent storm surge, were GRIMES, et ux busy creating a hole in the dune that could have flood his own and other properties?  Why?

Under F.S. 163.051, what GRIMES did (or someone working on his property did) is both a nuisance and potentially a first degree misdemeanor.

Flagler Hospital Medical Staff President JAMES MICHAEL GRIMES reports that he refuses to take Medicaid patients.  GRIMES signed a 2007 letter in The St. Augustine Record stating that neither God nor the Constitution require that Americans have a right to health care.  GRIMES wrote:
"Health care is not a 'right.' It is not guaranteed to citizens by the U.S. Constitution or God."   What blasphemy -- GRIMES speaks for God?!  Read full GRIMES letter here or here.

I wrote by e-mail this morning and asked GRIMES for comment, and to identify his partners.


Jesus preached in Nazareth, "Physician, heal thyself."  (Luke 4:23).

To orthopaedic physician Dr. JAMES MICHAEL GRIMES, I say, "Physician, heal this dune."

One news report alleged that GRACE GRIMES, co-owner, and Dr. GRIMES' wife, denied knowing about the dune bulldozing while a witness established she had a conversation with the bulldozer operator.  (read news stories below).

Dr, JAMES GRIMES, M.D. and wife GRACE: She allegedly denied knowledge of bulldozer, while witness allegedly saw her speaking to bulldozer operator

Here is the correspondence that FDEP sent Dr. GRIMES received from FDEP this week:

Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Northeast District
8800 Baymeadows Way West, Suite 100 Jacksonville, Florida 32256
Rick Scott Governor
Carlos Lopez-Cantera Lt. Governor
Noah Valenstein Secretary

September 27, 2017
BNE SRGN Investments 2 Twelfth Lane, LLC
c/o James M. Grimes, Manager
49 Dolphin Drive

St. Augustine, Florida 32080

RE: Compliance Assistance Offer 2 12th Lane
DEP File Number: VSJ 17-17 St. Johns County
Dear Mr. Grimes:
On September 18, 2017, a complaint inspection was conducted on your property located at 2 12th Lane, St. Augustine, in St. Johns County. During this inspection, potential non-compliance of Section 161.053, Florida Statutes (“F.S.”) was observed. The purpose of this letter is to offer you compliance assistance as a means of resolving this matter.
Specifically, activities have been conducted seaward of the Coastal Construction Control Line (“CCCL”) on the subject property that do not appear to have been authorized by a CCCL permit from the Department, in potential non-compliance with the requirements of Section 161.053(2)(a), F.S. Please see the attached Compliance Inspection Report for a full account of Department observations and recommendations.
We request you review the items of concern noted in the Department’s report and respond within 10 days of receipt of this Compliance Assistance Offer. Your response should include one of the following:
  1. Describe what has been done to resolve the apparent non-compliance issue or provide a schedule describing how and when the issues will be addressed (see "Recommendations for Corrective Action” section of the attached inspection report),
  2. Provide information that either mitigates the concerns or demonstrates them to be invalid, or
  3. Arrange for one of our inspectors to visit your site to discuss the items of concern.
page1image18568 page1image18728
BNE SRGN Investments 2 Twelfth Lane, LLC DEP File Number: VSJ 17-17
Compliance Assistance Offer
Page 2 of 2

It is the Department’s desire that you are able to adequately address the items of concern so that this matter can be closed. Your failure to respond appropriately may result in the initiation of formal enforcement proceedings.
You are requested to contact Chrissy Sellers of the Northeast District Office at (904) 256-1626, or via e-mail at, within 10 days of receipt of this Compliance Assistance Offer to arrange a conference call to further discuss this matter. You may include anyone with you to the meeting that you feel could help resolve this matter.
We look forward to your cooperation. 


James R. Maher, PE 
Assistant Director

Enclosures: Compliance Inspection Report
cc: Alex Reed, Deputy Director, DWRM Jim Martinello, DWRM
Trey Hatch, FDEP-Northeast District
David Kriger, DWRM
Mary Duncan, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 

Tara Dodson, St. Johns County Growth Management
Bill Ward, City of St. Augustine Beach Code Enforcement

Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Northeast District
8800 Baymeadows Way West, Suite 100 Jacksonville, Florida 32256
(904) 256-1700

page3image4496 page3image4656 page3image4816 page3image4976
Inspection Date: 09/18/2017
Inspection Time: 4:00 pm
Permit File number (if applicable):
City (if applicable): St. Augustine Beach
County: St. Johns
DEP Monument Number (distance and direction): 105’ to 150’ north of R-143
Distance of activity seaward of control line: ~330’ to 380’
Property Owner’s Name:
BNE SRGN Investments 2 Twelfth Lane, LLC
Address and Phone Number:
2 12th Lane
St. Augustine, FL 32080
Other Names (if applicable): James M. Grimes, Manager
Address and Phone Number:
49 Dolphin Drive
St. Augustine, FL 32080
Description of Alleged Non-Compliance Activities:
Apparent excavation resulting in the removal of a portion of the frontal vegetated dune, using heavy equipment seaward of the Coastal Construction Control Line (“CCCL”) without benefit of a Department permit.
Inspector’s Comments:
Inspection revealed that an approximate 10-foot wide (shore-parallel) by an approximate 30-foot long (shore-normal) portion of the vegetated dune had been cut through, with the excavated dune material apparently having been pushed seaward towards the beach. There is evidence of bulldozer tracks, and the dune appears to be recently plowed. This activity was conducted during sea turtle season and St. Johns County Government environmental staff have also advised the affected area is known for a dense population of federal and state protected beach mice.
Recommendations for Corrective Actions:
As provided for in Section 161.053(2)(a), Florida Statutes (“F.S.”), native vegetation shall not be damaged, removed, or destroyed seaward of the CCCL without specific prior authorization from the Department, nor shall excavation or alteration of existing ground elevations be conducted seaward of the CCCL without specific prior Department authorization.
The dune and dune vegetation damage that has occurred will need to be corrected to the Department’s satisfaction. To resolve this matter, the property owner must agree to conduct the recommended activities listed below. A response is requested within 10 days (See the Department’s Compliance Assistance Offer letter for additional details).
  •   Within 30 days, obtain the services of a qualified environmental consultant to assist in developing and submitting a restoration and revegetation plan for Department review and acceptance. The proposed restoration plan must address the entire disturbed area seaward of the CCCL on the subject property.
  •   The submitted plan will need to depict restoration of the damaged areas to pre-existing contours and elevations, and must also provide the specific number of cubic yards of compatible fill material, obtained from an upland source, that will be necessary to restore the excavated area to its pre-existing elevation.
  •   The submitted plan must also provide the dimensions of the disturbed area, in square feet, to be restored, and must also include the type and quantity of native dune vegetation to be planted. For plant diversity, the Department recommends that sea oats and other native dune grasses be proposed; such vegetation is typically planted in successive rows spaced 12-inches apart on 12-inch centers. The plan must include any proposed temporary or permanent irrigation system.
    Verbal Compliance Assistance Offered? Yes No
Inspector’s Signature: Kimberly Mann
Date: 09/19/2017
DEP Form 73-301 (Revised 5/04) Page 1
FOR TALLAHASSEE OFFICE USE (Routing, Review, Comments):
This Compliance Inspection Report and the Compliance Assistance Offer reviewed by:

Jim Martinello Environmental Administrator DWRM
September 26, 2017
Photographs (including brief location description):
View from dune facing west. Evidence of vehicle tracks leading towards the dune.
View from the beach facing west. Dune in front of property is lower and less vegetated than the surrounding dunes.

DEP Form 73-301 (Revised 5/04) Page 2

View from the house facing east. Evidence of tracks and absence of vegetation.
DEP Form 73-301 (Revised 5/04) Page 3 

Title XI

Chapter 161 

View Entire Chapter

161.053 Coastal construction and excavation; regulation on county basis.
(1)(a) The Legislature finds and declares that the beaches in this state and the coastal barrier dunes adjacent to such beaches, by their nature, are subject to frequent and severe fluctuations and represent one of the most valuable natural resources of Florida and that it is in the public interest to preserve and protect them from imprudent construction which can jeopardize the stability of the beach-dune system, accelerate erosion, provide inadequate protection to upland structures, endanger adjacent properties, or interfere with public beach access. In furtherance of these findings, it is the intent of the Legislature to provide that the department establish coastal construction control lines on a county basis along the sand beaches of the state fronting on the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Straits of Florida. Such lines shall be established so as to define that portion of the beach-dune system which is subject to severe fluctuations based on a 100-year storm surge, storm waves, or other predictable weather conditions. However, the department may establish a segment or segments of a coastal construction control line further landward than the impact zone of a 100-year storm surge, provided such segment or segments do not extend beyond the landward toe of the coastal barrier dune structure that intercepts the 100-year storm surge. Such segment or segments shall not be established if adequate dune protection is provided by a state-approved dune management plan. Special siting and design considerations shall be necessary seaward of established coastal construction control lines to ensure the protection of the beach-dune system, proposed or existing structures, and adjacent properties and the preservation of public beach access.
(b) As used in this subsection:
1. When establishing coastal construction control lines as provided in this section, the definition of “sand beach” shall be expanded to include coastal barrier island ends contiguous to the sand beaches of the state fronting on the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Straits of Florida.
2. “Coastal barrier island ends” means those areas on the ends of barrier islands fronting the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Straits of Florida, which are subject to severe fluctuations based on a 100-year storm surge, storm waves, or other predictable weather conditions.
3. “Coastal barrier islands” means geological features which are completely surrounded by marine waters that front upon the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Straits of Florida and are composed of quartz sands, clays, limestone, oolites, rock, coral, coquina, sediment, or other material, including spoil disposal, which features lie above the line of mean high water. Mainland areas which were separated from the mainland by artificial channelization for the purpose of assisting marine commerce shall not be considered coastal barrier islands.
(c) Coastal construction control lines shall be set on coastal barrier island ends only in conjunction with the resetting of the coastal construction control line throughout the entire county within which the barrier island end is located, and shall not be established on reaches of coastal barrier island ends where the shore is vegetated with mangroves.

(2)(a) Coastal construction control lines shall be established by the department only after it has been determined from a comprehensive engineering study and topographic survey that the establishment of such control lines is necessary for the protection of upland properties and the control of beach erosion. No such line shall be set until a public hearing has been held in each affected county. After the department has given consideration to the results of such public hearing, it shall, after considering ground elevations in relation to historical storm and hurricane tides, predicted maximum wave uprush, beach and offshore ground contours, the vegetation line, erosion trends, the dune or bluff line, if any exist, and existing upland development, set and establish a coastal construction control line and cause such line to be duly filed in the public records of any county affected and shall furnish the clerk of the circuit court in each county affected a survey of such line with references made to permanently installed monuments at such intervals and locations as may be considered necessary. However, no coastal construction control line shall be set until a public hearing has been held by the department and the affected persons have an opportunity to appear. The hearing shall constitute a public hearing and shall satisfy all requirements for a public hearing pursuant to s. 120.54(3). The hearing shall be noticed in the Florida Administrative Register in the same manner as a rule. Any coastal construction control line adopted pursuant to this section shall not be subject to a s. 120.56(2) rule challenge or a s. 120.54(3)(c)2. drawout proceeding, but, once adopted, shall be subject to a s. 120.56(3) invalidity challenge. The rule shall be adopted by the department and shall become effective upon filing with the Department of State, notwithstanding the provisions of s. 120.54(3)(e)6. Upon such filing with the Department of State, no person, firm, corporation, or governmental agency shall construct any structure whatsoever seaward thereof; make any excavation, remove any beach material, or otherwise alter existing ground elevations; drive any vehicle on, over, or across any sand dune; or damage or cause to be damaged such sand dune or the vegetation growing thereon seaward thereof, except as hereinafter provided. Control lines established under the provisions of this section shall be subject to review at the discretion of the department after consideration of hydrographic and topographic data that indicate shoreline changes that render established coastal construction control lines to be ineffective for the purposes of this act or at the written request of officials of affected counties or municipalities. Any riparian upland owner who feels that such line as established is unduly restrictive or prevents a legitimate use of the owner’s property shall be granted a review of the line upon written request. After such review, the department shall decide if a change in the control line as established is justified and shall so notify the person or persons making the request. The decision of the department shall be subject to judicial review as provided in chapter 120.
(b)1. The department shall exempt construction proposed for a location seaward of a coastal construction control line and landward of existing armoring from certain siting and design criteria of this chapter, provided the armoring is capable of protecting the proposed construction from the effects of erosion from a 100-year storm surge. The exemption shall apply to proposed structures involving the foundation, siting, and excavation criteria of this section, except such structures shall be:
a. Sited a sufficient distance landward of the armoring to allow for maintenance of the armoring.
b. Located up to or landward of the established line of construction.
c. Designed to comply with the windload requirements of this section.
d. Sited and designed to protect marine turtles.
2. The applicant shall provide scientific and engineering evidence that the armoring has been designed, constructed, and maintained to survive the effects of the design storm and provide protection to existing and proposed structures from the erosion associated with that event. Evidence shall include a report with data and supporting analysis, and shall be certified by a professional engineer registered in this state, that the armoring was designed and constructed and is in adequate condition to meet the following criteria:
a. The top must be at or above the still water level, including setup, for the design storm plus the breaking wave calculated at its highest achievable level based on the maximum eroded beach profile and highest surge level combination, and must be high enough to preclude runup overtopping.
b. The armoring must be stable under the design storm including maximum localized scour, with adequate penetration and toe protection to avoid settlement, toe failure, or loss of material from beneath or behind the armoring.
c. The armoring must have sufficient continuity or return walls to prevent flanking under the design storm from impacting the proposed construction.
d. The armoring must withstand the static and hydrodynamic forces of the design storm.
(3) A coastal county or coastal municipality may establish coastal construction zoning and building codes in lieu of the provisions of this section if such zones and codes are approved by the department as being adequate to preserve and protect the beaches and coastal barrier dunes adjacent to such beaches, which are under the jurisdiction of the department, from imprudent construction that will jeopardize the stability of the beach-dune system, accelerate erosion, provide inadequate protection to upland structures, endanger adjacent properties, or interfere with public beach access. Exceptions to locally established coastal construction zoning and building codes may not be granted unless previously approved by the department. The intent of this subsection is to provide for the local administration of established coastal construction control lines through approved zoning and building codes if desired by local interests and where such local interests have, in the judgment of the department, sufficient funds and personnel to adequately administer the program. Should the department determine at any time that the program is inadequately administered, the department may revoke the authority granted to the county or municipality.
(4) Except in those areas where local zoning and building codes have been established pursuant to subsection (3), a permit to alter, excavate, or construct on property seaward of established coastal construction control lines may be granted by the department as follows:
(a) The department may authorize an excavation or erection of a structure at any coastal location as described in subsection (1) upon receipt of an application from a property or riparian owner and upon the consideration of facts and circumstances, including:
1. Adequate engineering data concerning shoreline stability and storm tides related to shoreline topography;
2. Design features of the proposed structures or activities; and
3. Potential effects of the location of the structures or activities, including potential cumulative effects of proposed structures or activities upon the beach-dune system, which, in the opinion of the department, clearly justify a permit.
(b) If in the immediate contiguous or adjacent area a number of existing structures have established a reasonably continuous and uniform construction line closer to the line of mean high water than the foregoing, and if the existing structures have not been unduly affected by erosion, a proposed structure may be permitted along such line on written authorization from the department if the structure is also approved by the department. However, the department may not contravene setback requirements or zoning or building codes established by a county or municipality which are equal to, or more strict than, the requirements provided in this subsection. This paragraph does not prohibit the department from requiring structures to meet design and siting criteria established in paragraph (a) or in subsection (1) or subsection (2).
(c) The department may condition the nature, timing, and sequence of construction of permitted activities to provide protection to nesting sea turtles and hatchlings and their habitat, pursuant to s. 379.2431, and to native salt-resistant vegetation and endangered plant communities.
(d) The department may require engineer certifications as necessary to ensure the adequacy of the design and construction of permitted projects.
(e) The department shall limit the construction of structures that interfere with public access along the beach. However, the department may require, as a condition of granting permits, the provision of alternative access if interference with public access along the beach is unavoidable. The width of the alternate access may not be required to exceed the width of the access that will be obstructed.
(f) The department may, as a condition of granting a permit, require mitigation, financial, or other assurances acceptable to the department to ensure performance of conditions of a permit or enter into contractual agreements to best assure compliance with any permit conditions. The department may also require notice of the permit conditions required and the contractual agreements entered into to be filed in the public records of the county in which the permitted activity is located.
(5)(a) As used in this subsection, the term:
1. “Frontal dune” means the first natural or manmade mound or bluff of sand which is located landward of the beach and which has sufficient vegetation, height, continuity, and configuration to offer protective value.
2. “Seasonal high-water line” means the line formed by the intersection of the rising shore and the elevation of 150 percent of the local mean tidal range above local mean high water.
(b) After October 1, 1985, and notwithstanding any other provision of this part, the department, or a local government to which the department has delegated permitting authority pursuant to subsections (3) and (15), may not issue a permit for any structure, other than a coastal or shore protection structure, minor structure, or pier, meeting the requirements of this part, or other than intake and discharge structures for a facility sited pursuant to part II of chapter 403, which is proposed for a location that, based on the department’s projections of erosion in the area, will be seaward of the seasonal high-water line within 30 years after the date of application for the permit. The procedures for determining such erosion shall be established by rule. In determining the area that will be seaward of the seasonal high-water line in 30 years, the department may not include any areas landward of a coastal construction control line.
(c) If the application of paragraph (b) would preclude the construction of a structure, the department may issue a permit for a single-family dwelling for the parcel if:
1. The parcel was platted or subdivided by metes and bounds before the effective date of this section;
2. The owner of the parcel does not own another parcel immediately adjacent to and landward of the parcel for which the dwelling is proposed;
3. The proposed single-family dwelling is located landward of the frontal dune structure; and
4. The proposed single-family dwelling will be as far landward on its parcel as is practicable without being located seaward of or on the frontal dune.
(d) In determining the land areas that will be below the seasonal high-water line within 30 years after the permit application date, the department shall consider the effect on erosion rates of an existing beach nourishment or restoration project or of a beach nourishment or restoration project for which all funding arrangements have been made and all permits have been issued at the time the application is submitted. The department shall consider each year there is sand seaward of the erosion control line whether erosion took place that year. However, the seaward extent of the beach nourishment or restoration project beyond the erosion control line may not be considered in determining the applicable erosion rates. This subsection does not prohibit the department from requiring structures to meet the criteria established in subsection (1), subsection (2), or subsection (4) or to be further landward than required by this subsection based on the criteria established in subsection (1), subsection (2), or subsection (4).
(e) The department shall annually report to the Legislature the status of this program, including any changes to the previously adopted procedures for determining erosion projections.
(6) Any coastal structure erected, or excavation created, in violation of this section is declared to be a public nuisance and such structure shall be removed or such excavation shall be refilled after written notice by the department directing such removal or filling. If the structure is not removed or the excavation refilled within a reasonable time as directed, the department may remove such structure or fill such excavation at its own expense and the costs thereof shall become a lien on the property of the upland owner upon which the unauthorized structure or excavation is located.
(7) Any person, firm, corporation, or agent thereof who violates this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, except that a person driving a vehicle on, over, or across a sand dune and damaging or causing to be damaged such sand dune or the vegetation growing thereon in violation of this section commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. A person, firm, corporation, or agent thereof commits a separate offense for each day during any portion of which a violation of this section is committed or continued.
(8) This section does not apply to structures intended for shore protection purposes which are regulated by s. 161.041 or to structures existing or under construction before the establishment of the coastal construction control line if the structures are not materially altered except as provided in subsection (4). Except for structures that have been materially altered, structures under construction at the time of the establishment or reestablishment of the coastal construction control line are exempt from the provisions of this section. However, unless such an exemption has been judicially confirmed to exist before April 10, 1992, the exemption shall last only for a period of 3 years from the date of the determination of the exemption or April 10, 1992, whichever occurs later. The department may extend the exemption period for structures that require longer periods for completion if construction during the initial exemption period is continuous. For purposes of this subsection, the term “continuous” means following a reasonable sequence of construction without significant or unreasonable periods of work stoppage.
(9) The department may exempt specifically described portions of the coastline from the provisions of this section if, in its judgment, such portions of coastline because of their nature are not subject to erosion of a substantially damaging effect to the public.
(10) Pending the establishment of coastal construction control lines as provided herein, the provisions of s. 161.052 shall remain in force. However, upon the establishment of coastal construction control lines, or the establishment of coastal construction zoning and building codes as provided in subsection (3), s. 161.052 shall be superseded by the provisions of this section.
(11)(a) The coastal construction control requirements defined in subsection (1) and the requirements of the erosion projections in subsection (5) do not apply to any modification, maintenance, or repair of any existing structure within the limits of the existing foundation which does not require, involve, or include any additions to, or repair or modification of, the existing foundation of that structure. Specifically excluded from this exemption are seawalls or other rigid coastal or shore protection structures and any additions or enclosures added, constructed, or installed below the first dwelling floor or lowest deck of the existing structure. The Florida Building Commission may not adopt any rule having the effect of limiting any exceptions or exemptions contained within this paragraph.
(b) Activities seaward of the coastal construction control line which are determined by the department not to cause a measurable interference with the natural functioning of the coastal system are exempt from the requirements of subsection (4).
(c) The department may establish exemptions from the requirements of this section for minor activities determined by the department not to have an adverse effect on the coastal system. Examples of such activities include, but are not limited to:
1. Boat moorings;
2. Maintenance of existing beach-dune vegetation;
3. The burial of seaweed, dead fish, whales, or other marine animals on the unvegetated beach;
4. The removal of piers or other derelict structures from the unvegetated beach or seaward of mean high water;
5. Temporary emergency vehicular access, if the affected area is immediately restored;
6. The removal of any existing structures or debris from the upland, if there is no excavation or disturbance to the existing topography or to beach-dune vegetation;
7. Construction of a new roof overhang extending no more than 4 feet beyond the confines of the existing foundation during modification, renovation, or reconstruction of a habitable structure within the confines of the existing foundation of that structure which does not include any additions to or modification of the existing foundation of that structure;
8. Minor and temporary excavation for the purpose of repairs to existing subgrade residential service utilities (e.g., water and sewer lines, septic tanks and drainfields, electrical and telephone cables, and gas lines), if there is minimal disturbance and the grade is restored with fill compatible in both coloration and grain size to the onsite material and any damaged or destroyed vegetation is restored using similar vegetation; and
9. Any other minor construction that has an effect similar to the above activities.
(12)(a) Notwithstanding the coastal construction control requirements defined in subsection (1) or the erosion projection determined pursuant to subsection (5), the department may issue a permit for the repair or rebuilding within the confines of the original foundation of a major structure pursuant to subsection (4). Alternatively, the department may also issue a permit for a more landward relocation or rebuilding of a damaged or existing structure if such relocation or rebuilding would not cause further harm to the beach-dune system, and if, in the case of rebuilding, the rebuilding complies with subsection (4) and otherwise complies with this subsection.
(b) The department may not permit repairs or rebuilding that expands the capacity of the original structure seaward of the 30-year erosion projection established pursuant to subsection (5).
(c) In reviewing applications for relocation or rebuilding, the department shall specifically consider changes in shoreline conditions, the availability of other relocation or rebuilding options, and the design adequacy of the project sought to be rebuilt.
(d) Permits issued under this subsection are not considered precedential as to the issuance of subsequent permits.
(13) Concurrent with the establishment of a coastal construction control line and the ongoing administration of this chapter, the secretary of the department shall make recommendations to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund concerning the purchase of the fee or any lesser interest in any lands seaward of the control line pursuant to the state’s Save Our Coast, Conservation and Recreation Lands, or Outdoor Recreation Land acquisition programs; and, with respect to those control lines established pursuant to this section before June 14, 1978, the secretary may make such recommendations.
(14) A coastal county or municipality fronting on the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, or the Straits of Florida shall advise the department within 5 days after receipt of any permit application for construction or other activities proposed to be located seaward of the line established by the department pursuant to this section. Within 5 days after receipt of such application, the county or municipality shall notify the applicant of the requirements for state permits.
(15) In keeping with the intent of subsection (3), authority for permitting certain types of activities that have been defined by the department may be delegated by the department to a coastal county or coastal municipality. Such partial delegation shall be narrowly construed to those particular activities specifically named in the delegation and agreed to by the affected county or municipality. The delegation may be revoked by the department at any time if it is determined that the delegation is improperly or inadequately administered.
(16) The department may, at the request of a property owner, contract with the property owner for an agreement, or modify an existing contractual agreement regulating development activities landward of a coastal construction control line, if the contractual agreement is consistent with the design and siting provisions of this section. The contractual agreement may not bind either party for a period longer than 5 years following its date of execution. Before beginning a construction activity covered by the agreement, the property owner must obtain the necessary authorization required by the agreement. The agreement may not authorize construction for:
(a) Major habitable structures that require construction beyond the expiration of the agreement, unless such construction is above the completed foundation; or
(b) Nonhabitable major structures or minor structures, unless such construction is authorized at the same time as the habitable major structure.
(17) The department may grant areawide permits to local governments, other governmental agencies, and utility companies for special classes of activities in areas under their general jurisdiction or responsibility or for the construction of minor structures, if these activities or structures, due to the type, size, or temporary nature of the activity or structure, will not cause measurable interference with the natural functioning of the beach-dune system or with marine turtles or their nesting sites. Such activities or structures must comply with this section and may include, but are not limited to: road repairs, not including new construction; utility repairs and replacements, or other minor activities necessary to provide utility services; beach cleaning; dune restoration; on-grade walkovers for enhancing accessibility or use in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act; and emergency response. The department shall adopt rules to establish criteria and guidelines for permit applicants. The department shall consult with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on each proposed areawide permit and must require notice provisions appropriate to the type and nature of the activities for which the areawide permits are sought.
(18)(a) The department may grant general permits for projects, including dune restoration, dune walkovers, decks, fences, landscaping, sidewalks, driveways, pool resurfacing, minor pool repairs, and other nonhabitable structures, if the projects, due to type, size, or temporary nature, will not cause a measurable interference with the natural functioning of the beach-dune system or with marine turtles or their nesting sites. Multifamily habitable structures do not qualify for general permits. However, single-family habitable structures and swimming pools associated with such single-family habitable structures that do not advance the line of existing construction and satisfy all siting and design requirements of this section, and minor reconstruction for existing coastal armoring structures, may be eligible for a general permit.
(b) The department shall adopt rules to establish criteria and guidelines for permit applicants.
(c) Persons wishing to use the general permits must, at least 30 days before beginning any work, notify the department in writing on forms adopted by the department. The notice must include a description of the proposed project and supporting documents depicting the proposed project, its location, and other pertinent information as required by rule, to demonstrate that the proposed project qualifies for the requested general permit. Persons who undertake projects without proof of notice to the department, but whose projects would otherwise qualify for general permits, shall be considered to have undertaken a project without a permit and are subject to enforcement pursuant to s. 161.121.
(d) Persons wishing to use a general permit must provide notice as required by the applicable local building code where the project will be located. If a building code does not require notice, a person wishing to use a general permit must, at a minimum, post a sign describing the project on the property at least 5 days before commencing construction. The sign must be at least 88 square inches, with letters no smaller than one-quarter inch.
(19)(a) The department may suspend or revoke the use of a general or areawide permit for good cause, including: submission of false or inaccurate information in the notification for use of a general or areawide permit; violation of law, department orders, or rules relating to permit conditions; deviation from the specified activity or project indicated or the conditions for undertaking the activity or project; refusal of lawful inspection; or any other act by the permittee which results or may result in harm or injury to human health or welfare, or which causes harm or injury to animal, plant, or aquatic life or to property.
(b) The department shall have access to the permitted activity or project at reasonable times to inspect and determine compliance with the permit and department rules.
(20) The department may adopt rules related to the establishment of coastal construction control lines; activities seaward of the coastal construction control line; exemptions; property owner agreements; delegation of the program; permitting programs; and violations and penalties.
(21) In accordance with ss. 553.73 and 553.79, and upon the effective date of the Florida Building Code, the provisions of this section which pertain to and govern the design, construction, erection, alteration, modification, repair, and demolition of public and private buildings, structures, and facilities shall be incorporated into the Florida Building Code. The Florida Building Commission may adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536 and 120.54 to administer those provisions. This subsection does not limit or abrogate the right and authority of the department to require permits or to adopt and enforce environmental standards, including, but not limited to, standards for ensuring the protection of the beach-dune system, proposed or existing structures, adjacent properties, marine turtles, native salt-resistant vegetation, endangered plant communities, and the preservation of public beach access.

History.s. 1, ch. 71-280; s. 2, ch. 75-87; s. 1, ch. 77-12; s. 5, ch. 78-257; s. 29, ch. 79-164; s. 3, ch. 80-183; s. 67, ch. 81-259; s. 2, ch. 83-247; s. 33, ch. 85-55; s. 1, ch. 86-191; s. 13, ch. 87-97; s. 1, ch. 88-106; s. 1, ch. 88-349; s. 11, ch. 89-175; s. 9, ch. 91-224; s. 1, ch. 92-191; s. 22, ch. 94-356; s. 1437, ch. 95-147; s. 1, ch. 96-371; s. 21, ch. 96-410; s. 2, ch. 98-131; s. 6, ch. 2000-141; s. 5, ch. 2000-346; s. 34, ch. 2001-186; s. 3, ch. 2001-372; s. 186, ch. 2008-247; s. 39, ch. 2010-102; s. 2, ch. 2011-222; s. 16, ch. 2013-14; s. 12, ch. 2014-151.

St. Augustine Beach dunes believed to be damaged by bulldozers for 'ocean view'

In St. Johns County, there is now a huge hole in one of the protective dunes in St. Augustine Beach. The city believes the dunes were bulldozed to give someone an ocean view.

ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. (WTLV) -- There is now a large gap in one of the protective dunes along a St. Johns County Beach.

The city believes the dunes were bulldozed to give someone an ocean view near 12th Lane in St. Augustine Beach. Police said this type of dune destruction could lead to a first-degree misdemeanor.
According to a St. Augustine Beach police report, about a half-dozen feet of sand was cut out of this dune. Now neighbors worry about their homes which are normally protected by an intact dune.
"If you do that, the sea comes through," Bill Holcomb said.

The results of removing a section of the dune are pretty obvious for Bill Holcomb, who lives nearby.

According to the police report, a witness spotted bulldozers near the dunes last week. That witness said he tried to talk to the operator, but they loaded up and left.
"Not really the thing you should be doing, with a Bobcat," Holcomb said.

Noah Baxter lives on 12th Lane in St. Augustine Beach. He filed the police report on Tuesday.

Baxter told police he witnessed Grace Grimes, who owns the property right in front of the damaged dunes, speaking with a construction crew regarding work behind her home.

Grimes denied causing the damage, telling police she did not know who could have done that.
First Coast News reached out to Grimes for comment, but she refused to talk.
"We just had a hurricane, it blew a lot of things around so it's a bit silly of someone to take it upon themselves to do this though," Holcomb said.

Holcomb doesn't know how someone could do something like this right after Hurricane Irma.

"If everybody did that, there'd be no sand dune left because everyone would want to see the beach instead of the end of a sand hill, but that's what it's there for," Holcomb said.
© 2017 WTLV-TV

from WOKV:

St. Augustine Beach Police investigating after dunes bulldozed for ocean view 



St. Augustine Beach Police investigating after dunes bulldozed for ocean view 
Photo Credit: Action News Jax


  St. Augustine Beach residents are concerned about their homes after a section of protection dunes were missing on 12th lane. 
The St. Augustine Beach Police are currently investigating after someone called about the dunes being bulldozed behind his neighbor’s home just one day after Hurricane Irma. The concerned neighbor told officers that someone had used a mini bobcat to remove the sand. He admitted he didn’t see it actually happen, but stated he did see the tracks left behind. The responding officer asked the man if he knew of anyone that could have witnessed the event, and he referred him to his friend. 
The witness told officers he was walking on the Beach on September 14th around 7 a.m. and noticed the bulldozer plowing the dunes towards the beach. He also told police he saw a man with a working vest while the bulldozer was in operation. When he asked one of the workers what they were doing, they immediately loaded up the bulldozer and left the area, according to the police report. 
The woman who lives in front of the damaged dunes says she was aware of the incident but says she didn’t know who could have done it because she was at her other home at the time. 

Action News Jax



Photo Credit: Action News Jax

After digging through the police report, it was revealed a St. Augustine Beach Building official sent an e-mail to police about the dunes, saying they had notified the DEP about the cut dunes. The official stated  they were cut for an ocean view. 
Several neighbors are concerned with the gaping hole with some of their homes being so close to the ocean, and the dunes were protecting them from storm surge if there were another hurricane. There are also environmental concerns about the possibility of destroying the habitat of animals on the beach.