About seven miles north of the new Matlacha Bridge, on a plot of land in Bokeelia owned by Tranquility Bay Pine Island LLC, there is a pile of rubble accumulating next to homes on Eagles Nest Drive. It is concrete portions of the old Matlacha bridge.
Neighbors have noticed dump trucks dumping debris on the site for months.
"My wife said maybe four to eight dump trucks went down the road to the site in a single day," nearby resident Dick Newman said.
The concrete, remnants of the old Matlacha Bridge, piled up on a lot in Bokeelia.
"I call it 'Matlacha Mountain,'" he continued. "I really don't understand why they put that pile of rubble where they did. It's not like they had no place else to put it. I understand there's about 50 to 70 acres back there and they could have put it where it wouldn't be seen. I'm very (PO'd). It looks like an industrial dump."
Open storage of concrete is a violation of the county code and county ordinances. The county sent the landowner, Tranquility Bay Pine Island two notices of violation Thursday, July 25. Open storage of concrete and other waste materials is not permitted in Lee County. The county set a deadline of Aug. 8 for removal. If the debris isn't removed by the deadline the case could be scheduled before a hearing examiner who could impose a $250 per day fine.
"There's no way that pile is going to be removed in 15 days. It took months to dump it there," Newman said. "In fact they are still dumping there evan after the warnings."
Joan LaGuardia, Lee Community Development spokesperson, provided the following statement concerning the bridge work.
"Work continues on the Matlacha Bridge project; it appears close to completion subject to some verification of contract compliance. Archer Western believes that work can be completed in the next couple weeks. Internal discussions continue regarding all of the county's legal options to bring the project to a successful completion and resolve all outstanding issues.
"Archer Western subcontracted with Mitchell Swenson LLC in order to dispose of the debris from the project. Lee County is not a party to the private agreement for hauling and storing the concrete debris; however, Archer Western remains responsible for ensuring its subcontractors properly dispose of that debris."
In her statement, she went on to say, "Lee County Code Enforcement has filed two notices of violation regarding the improperly discarded debris. The County has been contacted by a representative of the property owner and informed that the property owner did not provide authorization to Archer Western or Mitchell Swenson, LLC, to dump the debris on the property. The County is not a party to the dispute between the property owner, Archer Western or Mitchell Swenson, LLC. The property owner has asked for an extension of the 15-day deadline, which is Aug. 13, 2013. But Code Enforcement has declined the extension. Code Enforcement will make a re-inspection on Aug. 13, 2013. If the debris remains, the matter may be scheduled for a hearing on the violation by the Hearing Examiner in accordance with county regulations. At this point, the county departments involved are in communication, monitoring the situation and coordinating appropriately."
After hearing the announcement from the Community Development, Barry Strudwick, the owner of the property said, "I am hopeful that a business solution will be reached with Archer Western."
A waterfront community of about 60 homes was proposed for the site as far back as the 1990s. It is unclear whether those plans have changed.