Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Homes face legal hoop before connecting to sewer

KEY LARGO -- Discussion continues about what to do with a North Key Largo neighborhood that may not be able to connect to a sewer system without violating federal law.

The Monroe County Commission is to take up at the issue when it meets Wednesday, Dec. 12, in Marathon.

Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District Manager Margaret Blank is expected to attend.

The residents live on property protected by the Coastal Barrier Resources Act, which prohibits development, including the installation of the sewers and other utilities, in low-lying coastal zones. But the homes in question have had electricity service for years.

According to documents provided by the county's Division of Growth Management, the homeowners are not eligible to receive permits to connect to a collection system being provided by the Key Largo district.

The district has stalled on providing service to the homes along County Road 905, including this neighborhood, as it has been trying to secure funding to help offset the cost of providing advanced wastewater treatment service to the remote location.

Key Largo, like the rest of the Florida Keys, is under a state mandate to provide advanced treatment by December 2015.

In a Nov. 27 email, County Attorney Lisa Granger wrote that the district, under state law, is exempt from securing a county permit, but individual homeowners are not.

The county has passed provisions in accordance with the federal law that prohibit development in the Coastal Barrier Resources System.

Wastewater board member Andy Tobin said the situation is the same as the power service controversy on No Name Key. There, residents have been in a years-long battle over whether electricity should be brought to an island where some want development and others do not.

District Chief Information Officer Paul Christian said most of the property on County Road 905 designated CBRS is government owned, and many of the residences are seasonal.

Christian said the district will inform the 32 homeowners after a determination is made.

jgore@keysnews.com

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