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Sarasota County will not appeal Big Pass dredging permit notice

Without saying a word, the Sarasota County Commission decided Tuesday it will not appeal state environmental officials' decision to advance a permit for the controversial dredging of Big Pass to nourish Lido Key beaches.

The decision bucks requests from some Siesta Key leaders who oppose the project and means the county will sit out a potentially lengthy legal challenge to the technical details and engineering of the project more than a decade in the making.

The county received a short extension to the deadline for an appeal last week so the commission could discuss the issue at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday. But after a brief presentation from the county staff that recommended taking no action, commissioners sat silently for a moment before simply moving on to their next agenda item.

The proposed project led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and city of Sarasota calls for dredging up to 1.2 million cubic yards of sand from the pass to rebuild more than 1.5 miles of Lido Key beach. But Siesta residents and groups have objected to the plan amid fears that changes to the channel could harm their key's iconic beaches, pitting them against neighbors on Lido and city officials.