Friday, May 14, 2021

Hideaway Beach New Construction Freeze

Submitted Photos | Mangroves at Hideaway; Mangroves provide clean water, recreational and spiritual space.

Chris Reyelt, General Manager of Hideaway Beach Association (HBA) sent a letter to all HBA members/owners on May 31, 2019, informing them that, “HBA has to modify its Master Drainage Plan with South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). We are taking immediate actions to submit modifications to the previous 2004 SFWMD Drainage Plan modification that requires each single family home lot to have the required 40% of the square footage for native or natural trees and foliage ONLY in the rear of the lot.”

In plain language, SFWMD has recently advised HBA that many lots do not appear to meet the property and landscaping requirements of their permit, and has directed HBA to cease clearing and cease to allow clearing of single family home lots until SFWMD approves modifications to the Master Drainage Plan. The permit also provides that no mangroves may be disturbed.

According to Reyelt, the first issue was mangrove trimmings. Reyelt wrote to HBA members and owners explaining that in the past mangrove trimming permits have been issued to HBA homeowners through Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). Trimming permits are now issued through SFWMD.

Secondly, according to Reyelt, the permit modification undertaken in April 2004 allowed more fill on single family homes and larger footprints by adding additional water storage through a) underground chambered storage, b) dry retention, or c) gravel bed storage. In the 2004 approved modification, exhibit of a typical site plan shows the house in the front of the yard and the rear 40% of the lot as preserved area with native vegetation. No house built within HBA has ever followed this typical exhibit.

Importance of Mangroves

Mangrove wetlands provide:

  • Habitat
  • Feeding
  • Breeding & nursery areas

For a variety of plants and animals including endangered species.

According to Reyelt, SFWMD has interpreted that HBA is not in compliance with their Master Drainage Plan. It is unclear how the 40% native vegetation was determined, since most single family lots do not have an existing preserve in the rear and the geometry of the lots vary.

To be in compliance, HBA will have to submit a permit modification showing how the houses are built and how the drainage and native plants are arranged on the property.

Reyelt asserts that HBA has been following all the water storage requirements, but not the “preserve” area or the environmental component of the Environmental Resource Permit.

Per correspondence from Laura Layman of SFWMD to HBA, dated July 12, 2019, below is a sampling of her requests for additional information to be submitted within 90 days of her letter.

  • Additional documentation discussing how HBA has handled the presence of mangroves on residential lots, and how they propose to deal with any mangroves in the future. Are mangroves on residential lots legally protected by HBA in the deed restrictions?
  • For HBA to show additional supporting documentation for the Typical Site Plan illustration, supporting the criteria of a maximum of 60% of each residential lot for impact and 40% to remain in an undisturbed natural state.
  • HBA to submit a Mangrove Trimming Plan as part of their application and to incorporate into the HBA’s Conservation Area Management Plan (CAMP) an assessment of recreational trails and other facilities in the conservation area.
  • HBA to submit an Urban Storm Water Management Program that includes specific details for maintenance and operation of the storm water management system.
  • Mitigation may be required by HBA. Mitigation of the wetland area may be required due to any anticipated loss in wetland functions.

According to Brad Cornell of the Audubon of the Western Everglades, “When developers destroy designated wetland habitat, Florida law requires a ‘Wetlands Mitigation’ process. Sadly, wetlands mitigation is becoming harder in coastal area due to lack of suitable land available for mitigation purposes.”

2 responses to “Hideaway Beach New Construction Freeze”

  1. Linda says:

    Kudos to the SFWMD. and to the Coastal Breeze for carrying this vital information.

  2. Ernest Zuccarelli says:

    Ms Lamb your story has one point that’s not true. I recently built my own house in Hideaway and I made it a point to have that 40% + of the lot dedicated to natural vegetation. It’s difficult to build a house without clearing a lot but many have no more than weeds growing on them. I removed the ‘junk’ and replaced them with natural foliage and trees. I made all provisions for water retention on the lot and the results are here to be seen. I don’t understand the history of this community but I did my best to build within the SFWMD restrictive guidelines. I would suggest that the SFWMD distribute their own requirements directly to the owner or builder to ensure they are within the guidelines.

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