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DEP exempts Anna Maria mangrove removal, work stalled

The removal of mangroves at one canalfront Anna Maria property has been cleared by the state.

A Dec. 22, 2023, inspection by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection found that Mason Martin, the contractor that performed the mangrove removal at 111 Gull Drive, Anna Maria, was within the footprint of exempt activity.

The 1996 Florida Department of Environmental Protection Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act establishes regulations to protect coastal vegetation.

Mangroves provide environmental benefits, including offering a unique ecosystem for marine life, decreasing land erosion and improving nearshore water quality.

The law sets standards for trimming mangroves and most alterations require DEP permitting.

The property at 111 Gull Drive is owned by Massachusetts-based Sharp Development LLC, which purchased it last year for $1,890,000 and demolished the existing home.

The city received complaints about the removal of mangroves at the property Dec. 4, 2023, and, upon inspection, staff found Mason Martin removing the vegetation — work proposed under an application for a building permit to construct a seawall.

The city posted a stop work order at the property Dec. 6 for unpermitted work.