Unpermitted Dump Site Worries Acreage Officials

South Florida Water Management District enforcers are moving to get a 40-acre site in The Acreage, owned by Vila Nursery, cleaned up and permitted after they cited the owner for improperly dumping fill on the site.

Indian Trail Improvement District Engineer Lisa Tropepe alerted ITID President Michelle Damone last month in a letter, citing mulch and garbage piles on the site, located on 87th Court North, not far from Pierce Hammock Elementary School.

“I am concerned about both the quality and quantity of material that is being spread,” Tropepe wrote in a letter dated March 9. “The material appears to be mulched organic material with significant amounts of garbage. Plastic bags, whole tires, foam cushions and aluminum cans were observed throughout the site.”

The material appeared to be several feet high across several acres, Tropepe reported. She added that it was difficult to determine if adverse amounts of organic material are part of the fill material, but because of the vast area and depth of the piles, sampling would need to be conducted in many areas and at different depths.

The ITID engineer cited among her concerns the “adverse impact on the ground/surface water and its proximity to residential drinking water wells in the area. Second is the closeness of the material to the adjacent swales along Hamlin and Grapeview boulevards. Last is the impact on historic wetlands and whether this filling operation is properly permitted and wetlands properly mitigated.”

Although Indian Trail has no jurisdiction over zoning issues, Tropepe wrote that she thought it was in the district’s best interest to reach out to agencies with proper jurisdiction.

Damone, who said she had met with Tropepe on Tuesday about the site, praised the SFWMD for taking action. “The South Florida Water Management District, Lisa Tropepe and our director of operations, Tony LasCasas, all went and met out at the property yesterday,” Damone told the Town-Crier on Wednesday. “They have done some site cleanup, but there’s definitely some concerns as far as Indian Trail is involved, because there is direct outfall from the site into our drainage system.”

Damone said ITID wants the situation addressed quickly. “I’m pleased that the South Florida Water Management District is addressing this issue and sees it as an immediate concern,” she said.

SFWMD Lead Regulatory Specialist Kurt Leckler confirmed that he went to the site Tuesday with Tropepe and LasCasas. “We’re at the beginning stages of looking at the property,” Leckler said. “We’re in the ‘get a permit’ mode. The rest will unfold from that application.”

According to the notice of violation sent to Ramon Vilarino of Vila Nursery Inc. dated April 12, the activities that have not been properly permitted include “filling and grading, resulting in adverse impacts to the water resources of the district without obtaining an environmental resource permit from the SFWMD.”

The property owner was directed to cease operations immediately until proper authorization is obtained. The SFWMD will seek civil penalties and recovery of staff investigative costs and may require restoration of the site, according to the letter. The district is authorized to seek civil penalties of up to $10,000 per day, per offense.