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FDEP issues violation notice for Cortez fishing structure

It’s been on the water for decades, but state says Cortez building has to go

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has issued a notice of violation to a Cortez man, claiming he didn’t get permission to construct a 1,200-square-foot structure on Sarasota Bay.

Since Raymond Guthrie Jr. was a child, he has seen the structure’s transformation with every rebuild. Once it was a place for anglers to store nets, and another time it was used to farm clams. As Guthrie started his most recent reconstruction project, which sits just yards away from A.P. Bell Fish Co., he said he wanted to use it as a net repair station and research facility for seagrass and mangroves.

“I’ve been grandfathered in all my life,” said Guthrie, 68. “I don’t know what to say.”

He said he submitted photos and documents to the state agency to prove that it fell under the Butler Act, which was passed in 1921 to encourage waterfront property improvements over submerged lands. He said he’s never had to acquire a permit for this type of work.

“I don’t get what the big deal is about it,” he said. “It’s just one person.”

After a complaint was filed against Guthrie in late May, drawing a verbal notification from the department and a compliance assistance letter, Guthrie’s representative Joanne Semmer agreed with the department that he would sign a consent order, according to the notice signed Oct. 19.