Army Corps looks into violation allegation at Harbor Sound
PERICO ISLAND – As site work progresses on a controversial shoreline subdivision owned by developer Pat Neal, the federal agency charged with vetting the last permit Neal needs to build there is investigating an alleged wetlands protection violation.
According to Nakeir Nobles, a spokeswoman for the Corps' Jacksonville office, the agency is reviewing the allegation levied by the project's opponents as it continues to review a permit for Neal's four-home Harbor Sound community.
She gave few specifics, noting that details of the investigation will be made public after it is complete. She declined to confirm who made the allegation.
"Once a determination has been made, our conclusion will be available," she said.
Attorney Ralf Brookes, who represents several environmental groups that are appealing a state wetlands permit for the project, submitted the allegation in late September, said Joe McClash, a former Island County commissioner who has led legal opposition against certain aspects of Neal's project. It alleges that some of the land at the 3.46-acre construction site Neal identifies as uplands are or until recently functioned as wetlands.
McClash and environmental groups including ManaSota-88, the Sierra Club and Suncoast Waterkeeper are specifically opposing the proposed filling of .72-acre of coastal wetlands to expand the buildable footprint at Harbor Sound.