The hearing of the consolidated lawsuits took place almost three years after Kurt and I applied for our first permit. Amazing how time flies when you having fun! Anyway, the hearing lasted for three days.
What was odd to us, was that the attorney representing the Town and Florida Audubon was so unprepared to go into this hearing. Our attorney suggested the Town and Audubon never believed that Kurt and I would last financially to the point of actually getting to the hearing.
The first day the Audubon attorney was asking our attorney if she could use our equipment and some of our photos to reference her information. It was a joke.
The Town and Florida Audubon presented 75 objections in their lawsuit against Kurt and I over a period of three days. We had competent testimony from experts. The FDEP had their attorneys present to defend their approval and issuance of our permits. Our attorneys said they had never had a case when the FDEP was involved where they had so many of their staff present to testify. Again, are you wondering why the FDEP is defending us?
We presented accurate photos, studies and professional testimony, which explained the real information as to the impact to the environment and wildlife. All of our expert testimony coincided with all the studies and information that had been done by the FDEP previous to the State hearing.
The Administrative Law Judge's ruling was released in May of 2019. He ruled against all 75 objections filed by the Town and Florida Audubon. He ruled that the water feature in our backyard is in fact non- tidal and non-navigable. He ruled that not only were the Town and Florida Audubon's objections not worthy of consideration, that our walkover is a benefit to the environment and the wildlife.
It was proven in the hearing that there are no nesting birds or turtles anywhere in proximity to our proposed walkover and that walkovers are to condense and direct foot traffic away from wildlife and are a benefit to the environment. He ruled that our walkover would serve the same purpose as other walkovers in sensitive areas.
The entire Administrative Law Judge's ruling can be read at this link. https://www.doah.state.fl.us/ALJ/searchDOAH/default.asp Type DOAH Case No. 18-1451
There have been a total of 4 lawsuits filed by the Town and Florida Audubon collectively, and they have lost every one of them.
Kurt and I are not quitting, so we are prepared for more lawsuits going forward.
If the Town has lost every lawsuit so far, how does it expect to win the future lawsuits filed against the Town by Kurt and I? They are going to spend a lot of your taxpayer dollars fighting a fight that so far they have lost at every turn.
The Florida Audubon Society is no longer a participant in the expense of fighting this battle, but it appears they continue to encourage the Town to fight at your expense.
You have Town Management and Town Council fighting a battle encouraged by the special interests of the local Audubon Society at the expense of the taxpayers.
The Ornithology Expert testified Nesting Shore Birds do not nest in dense vegetation such as ours.