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Date of Issue: September 21, 2006

Engineer rips Buky's proposed Gulffront project

A marine engineering firm hired by Anna Maria to review plans submitted by Holmes Beach resident Gabriel Buky to build a house at 103 Elm St. - the former Negele property and a subject of past controversy - has detailed nine objections to the plan with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Michael Jenkins of Applied Technology and Management of West Palm Beach sent his comments to the DEP on Sept. 5, noting that, while a single-family residence is "allowed" on the property, according to the July 28, 2005, settlement agreement between former owner Susan Negele, the DEP and the city, "all other appropriate local and state permitting requirements and conditions, including a dune enchancement plan to be approved by the DEP," are required.

"As such," wrote Jenkins, "the proposed construction must satisfactorily meet all of the permitting requirements as defined."

Jenkins also said the proposed construction would have a "significant adverse impact on the beach and coastal systems," and the parcel "includes primary dune and dune vegetation, which is overlapped by the footprint of the proposed construction."

Jenkins also expressed concern that the construction "may negatively impact public access" and that a proposed modification to the existing public access adjacent to the property has not yet been approved by the city.

His report noted that the construction had the potential to "negatively impact nesting sea turtles" and recommended that Buky investigate the "historic nesting in the vicinity of the property."

In addition, Jenkins said the proposed construction appears to be "directly dependent on favorable changes to the shoreline as a result of renourishment activity." As there is no guarantee that these "favorable shoreline conditions" will be maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jenkins maintained that Buky should provide "reasonable assurance" that the proposed construction is consistent with "natural conditions for the property."

Jenkins also said wave inundation and standing water are likely to be significant during a major storm event. While a mitigative dune feature is included in Buky’s plan, Jenkins claimed design calculations and evaluations regarding the proposed feature and "its adequacy" have not been provided.

Continuing with his criticism, Jenkins said the information provided about the construction "does not appear to adequately address issues regarding drainage," including how the dune feature will relate to drainage of the property.

Jenkins also claimed that an Aug. 14, 2006, letter from the city to Buky was not a letter of "local approval" as required by the DEP, because the letter noted that key elements of the proposed construction were "specifically" not approved. Buky needs written approval, he said, from the city building department before construction can begin.

Jenkins’ comments also noted that, given the extent of hurricane damage that has occurred recently within Florida, Anna Maria "is justified in its concern regarding new construction seaward of the coastal construction control line," particularly since the proposed construction "is intended as a habitable major structure."

The DEP had asked the city for comments about the proposal before it issues Buky a DEP permit to build seaward of the CCCL.

Negele was turned down by the city for a building permit in 2000 and subsequently filed suit against the city and the DEP. A settlement was reached in 2005, but Negele sold the property soon after the legal agreement was reached and the case finalized.

Efforts to reach Buky for comment on the Jenkins letter to the DEP were unsuccessful, but his attorney, David Montgomery, voiced his objections at the Sept. 14 city commission meeting. (See related story.)

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