By Patty Huff
On April 1, Florida Georgia Grove LLP (FGG) applied for a vegetation removal permit for its property along Mamie Street on Chokoloskee Island; this was issued on April 2. The company requested removal of exotics and other non-native species. FGG was to initiate the work on April 28 but started four days earlier on April 24. Within a week, the vegetation removal and work on the seawall permit were finished. FGG also has an outstanding permit to renovate the duplex on the property.
Now, the question is: With all the safeguards supposedly in place, how did FGG get the approval to “grade” this historic and archaeological site? There is a process by which a developer obtains a permit — an application that Collier County requires and must be reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Department. In the case of the FGG property on Chokoloskee Island, there were two “vegetation removal” permits that were reviewed and approved by environmental staff. The Collier County Historic and Archeological Preservation Board (part of the Planning and Zoning Department) also approved of a “vegetation removal” permit with the stipulation that a certified archaeologist monitor the vegetation removal.
When bulldozers arrived on the property and trees were removed, residents of Chokoloskee became concerned about the amount of work being done. An email request was made on April 25 to Code Enforcement concerning the need to have an archaeologist on site to monitor any excavation activities associated with the building permits for the property in Chokoloskee since it was a requirement of the permit.
As seen from the photos, more than “vegetation removal” was done between April 24 and May 2. Within one week, the property was completely graded and material from the historic shell mound was moved by the bulldozer for fill across Mamie Street to FGG’s marina site.
The destruction to this historic Indian mound is now regrettably complete.