Tag Archives: palm beach county

Everglades Earth First! cranks up the pressure on Kolter

22 Mar
    EEF! celebrates the Spring Equinox in the streets!

EEF! celebrates the Spring Equinox in the streets!

by Panagioti, EF! Journal

Last month, Everglades Earth First! (EEF!) announced that it would be putting land developer Kolter in the cross-hairs of its campaign against Scripps Biotech and the destruction of Briger forest in northern Palm Beach County. Yesterday, they followed up with a bold office demo and theatrical hell-raising. [Check out the local TV news coverage here.]

Even the devil came out to shame Kolter

Even the devil came out to shame Kolter

EEF! was joined by members of the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition and Smash HLS, a South Florida-based anti-vivisection group. The demonstration, which included a menacing presence at the windows of Kolter employees, also entered the offices of Kolter and Kast (Kolter’s associated construction company) as well as their neighboring business, to let them know what is at stake if the Briger forest is lost.  Continue reading

Everglades Earth First! Brings Anti-Biotech Fight to Kolter Group

26 Feb

Land deal could signify move forward for Scripps’ biotech city on Briger forest

Today in West Palm Beach, Florida, Everglades Earth First! (EEF!) announced their official opposition to the Kolter Group’s purchase of the Briger Forest. The EEF! collective, which maintained a 6-week treesit on the site in 2011, visited the corporate office of the venture capitalist vultures at Kolter with this message: “If you buy Briger you’re buying the community resistance to the Scripps Florida Phase II project.” The project has been contested for years, with multiple legal challenges citing impacts to protected species, including hand fern and gopher tortoise.

While his underlings call him Bobby. After watching this video, you may want to call him Blinky instead. Has Scripps gone into genetically engineering robot CEO's?!

While his underlings call him Bobby, after watching this video, you may want to call him Blinky. …Has Scripps gone into genetically engineering robot CEO’s?!

In case you want to pay a visit (or send a letter) to Kolter Group Co yourself, their address is 701 S. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach, FL 33401. And you can call them at (561) 682-9500, or fax (561) 682-1050. The CEO’s name is Robert Julien, but his underlings seem to call him Bobby. His extension is 221.

Although the Kolter Group claims to be committed to “creating better communities” they seem to have little issue with building homes and businesses within close proximity of the proposed biotech facility. Continue reading

Seminole Tribe of Florida fights FPL proposal; Sierra Club beats rock mine in the Everglades

4 Aug

A night time view from the recently-built power plant in Loxahatchee, which the Hendry proposal has been compared to by FPL, explaining how "low profile" it will be

By Earth First! Journal

In a recent legal challenge to Hendry County’s approval of re-zoning land for a newly proposed FPL power plant in primary panther habitat, attorneys with the Seminole Tribe of Florida demanded a Writ of Certiorari quashing the County Ordinance which gave preliminary approval for the plan. The following are excerpts from the legal challenge, filed earlier this summer: 

The approved use is not compatible with the longstanding and continuing uses of the Big Cypress Reservation, which is adjacent to the rezoned property… Given the flow characteristics of the area, such an analysis is critical in determining the compatibility of the rezoning with adjacent land uses on the Big Cypress Reservation. The extreme groundwater withdrawals necessary to support the project will diminish the hydrological functions of the floodplain and will impair important biological and ecological functions of the floodplain, thereby endangering the residents and use of the Big Cypress Reservation…

While the Seminole Tribe brought these issues to the attention of the County prior to the adoption of the rezoning, no analysis of the compatibility of the approved project with the Big Cypress Reservation was ever conducted and no finding of compatibility was ever made that was supported by competent and substantial evidence. In fact, the County’s Planning and Zoning Department’s Staff Report failed to even mention the Seminole Tribe or the Big Cypress Reservation in its discussion of the Power Plant’s compatibility with the surrounding areas…

As acknowledged by the County, the proposed Power Plant has “significant” water demands… The impacts of this significant water demand have also not been analyzed with respect to the Seminole Tribe’s own water rights pursuant to the Water Rights Compact Among the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the State of Florida and the South Florida Water Management District…

The Seminole Tribe of Florida also has federally recognized usual and customary use rights within the Big Cypress National Preserve and Addition Lands that will be negatively impacted by drawdown associated with the proposed project…

The record evidences that the proposed Power Plant cannot be accommodated on the 3,127 acre rezoned property and will depend upon consuming the water resources from numerous wells on surrounding property outside of the rezoned site…

On July 20th, the court accepted the Tribe’s petition and ordered the County to explain its approval. Let’s hope that the Seminole Tribe’s legal challenge can end this nightmare, for the Tribe and the Florida panther, before it gets any further.

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In other victorious paper-wrenching news from the Everglades

A Palm Beach Post article yesterday reported the defeat of a rock mine approved by Palm Beach County, in a favorable ruling from the Fourth Disctrct Court of Appeals. From the Post:

In a decision that environmentalists say could affect the future of rock mining in the county’s rural western area, the court ruled the 470-acre expansion planned by Bergeron Sand and Rock Mine Aggregates did not meet criteria spelled out in the county’s comprehensive plan—a long-term blueprint for growth and development.

“Mining in the EAA has been a major Everglades issue for several years now,” said Richard Grosso, a pro bono attorney for the Everglades Law Center. “We are obviously happy to win the case, but frustrated that, at every turn in the last several years, the county commission goes and decides against Everglades restoration and for industry. At some point, we are hoping that the county will change its approach in order to start giving the benefit of the doubt to the Everglades.”

In all, the environmental groups 1000 Friends of Florida and the Sierra Club have filed legal challenges against three county mining approvals, including the Bergeron expansion. Two cases are still pending.

The attorneys who filed the successful appeal against the rock mine cited that it was affidavits of the activists who were at the public hearings that were able to secure standing and result in this victory. So for all you out there that have sat through long, boring, infuriating public hearings (or Sierra Club meetings for that matter), sometimes its worth a damn…

But usually not. So get back out in the streets, and swamps, already! Geez!! a few small victories and you people start getting lazy. Lest we forget, we have an entire civilizations to dismantle, and it seems unlikely that the appeal will be in our favor on that one.

Everglades Earth First! shuttin' down business as usual at an FPL power plant AND rock mine in the Everglades Agricultural Area, Feb, 2008.

April Fool’s Tree Sit against Deforestation and Biotechnology

1 Apr

Earth First! editor Aguamala takes to a tree at the Palm Beach Gardens city hall to protest the development of a biotech city on an endangered forest.

Dressed in sad clown make-up Ana Rodriguez (Everglades Earth First!er and member of the editorial collective of the Earth First! Journal) scampered up a pine tree at Palm Beach Gardens city hall this morning. She is part of the coalition that is fighting a Scripps biotech development, which will be built on an endangered forest, in Palm Beach County, Florida.

April 1st, Fool’s Day, marks the one year anniversary of the Palm Beach Gardens city council deciscion to rezone the Briger Forest for development.

The Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, Executive Committee of the Loxahatchee SierraClub and the Conservation Chair of Audubon Society of the Everglades have all taken a position against the plan to clear Briger forest. The groups join Everglades Earth First! in opposing the current Briger plan and call for an alternate plan which preserves and enhances the endangered species habitat, recreational value and educational opportunities that the forest provides.

Treesitter Ana Rodriguez commented “The public needs to know that Mayor Levy and the County Commissioner have given Scripps $579 million in tax dollars to clear the Briger Forest and create one hundred jobs. That is one million per job. In this time of drastic budget cuts we call on the Mayor and County Commissioners to redirect public money into the budget, not the deep pockets of the Scripps Corporation.”

The new tree-top protest comes a week after Palm Beach Gardens Police arrested two tree sitters. The Police were also responsible for cutting multiple large native pine trees down in two areas of Briger forest—one of these being an area listed as a “preserve” in the Development of Regional Impact (DRI) permit, the other being in land owned by Palm Beach County taxpayers. Several members of the group have filed public records requests for details on the reason for tree-cutting. No official response has been made by the city to these requests, and their requests for a meeting with staff have gone ignored.

The activists have found that, according to Treasure Coast Regional Planning Committee staff, cutting trees in the designated preserve area constitutes a violation of the conditions of the DRI approval, which requires a “Preserve Management Plan” that will “enhance and restore” habitat. Activist have 10 foot branches and large stumps from the felled trees with them at City Hall and plan to rally later today from noon – two.

The group asserts that the fight to protect Briger is gaining momentum, similar to the 2006 effort that resulted in Scripps being forced off Mecca Farms due to environmental impacts. A group member Panagioti Tsolkas commented that “More and more people are realizing the importance of protecting the endangered species on the Briger Forest. We get calls daily from people who want to participate in our efforts to protect the Briger Forest.”

In 1990, Palm Beach County’s Environmental Resource Management (ERM) selected the Briger forest as a candidate for preservation through a bond to purchase land for protection. At that time, it was called Indian Creek Flatwoods eco-site #23. While it was not selected in the final purchases, it was recognized to be valued as endangered species habitat by ERM, over 20 years ago.

For more photos and background, visit www.ScrapScripps.info

Florida Department of Environmental Protection turn blind eye to destruction of reefs… again.

29 Mar

Collusion, corruption, incompetence, complicity, ineptitude or just a party to outright fraud? Why will the Florida Department of Environmental Protection not enforce the permits they issue?

Another beach “renourishment” project and more bogus data as the contractors circumvent project mandated environmental permit monitoring and the FDEP turns a blind eye; afraid or unable to catch the perpetrators as they lay waste to miles of coastal habitat.

This years poster child for ecosystem destruction is the Hillsboro beach renourishment project. The project permit requires the contractor to limit the amount of coral-killing silt generated by monitoring turbidity levels. The standard which they must not exceed is 29 turbidity units (NTU) above background beyond a point 150 meters from the beach sand placement area, or about 492 feet.

For weeks Reef Rescue, other groups and individuals have been supplying FDEP with evidence of noncompliance. In fact, since 2005 Reef Rescue has documented contractor fraud on five separate beach renourishment projects. But the Sunday, March 27, display of a total disregard for permit compliance and habitat destruction goes to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company for creating one of the worst silt plumes we have witnessed. So expansive, it engulfed two South Florida coastal counties and stretched from Hillsboro Beach to north of Boca Raton.

Click on this link to view the Sunday turbidity slide show.

Related post from Juno Beach

Silt plumes over the reefs were reported by scuba diving charter boats almost as soon as work on the project began. On December 22, dive operators found underwater visibility of less than five feet at the popular dive spot “Shark Canyon”, located offshore of the Juno Beach construction site.

Assault on Florida tree sit in Briger Forest

21 Mar

[Click here for more images from Briger forest]

The images of cut trees are from the initial tree sit location. Ring counts estimate the trees at 50-70 years old. At the time of being cut, a banner was still being displayed. Rather than cut the banner down, multiple trees were felled, seemingly in retaliation for the attention brought to the development plan. These were some of the largest trees on the property, and were in an area listed as a “preserve” in the approved development plan. The site was still in use by those occupying the Briger forest. Around the same time (3/15/2011), a tree sitter at the Donald Ross site was threatened by a person claiming to be ‘the owner’ of the property, saying that he could cut trees wherever and whenever he wanted. Luckily no one was hurt by the trees being cut.
“The disregard shown by this act leaves us concerned about the fate of tree sitters and endangered species in the forest, but our commitment to defend this forest has only grown stronger.” —an anonymous tree sitter of Briger Forest

[UPDATE 3/21: Following this post, on the Spring Equinox, two tree sitters were arrested, gear was stolen and three more occupied trees were cut by the Palm Beach Gardens Police along Donald Ross Road—which is public land, owned by the people of Palm Beach County. The tree sitters were released later the same evening on their own recognizance. For more info, read the Palm Beach Post story here.]

One Month of Canopy Occupation in Florida against Bitoech, Deforestation, Vivisection

14 Mar
Hanging out in defense of the wild and against the corporate ownership of life.

Hanging out in defense of the wild and against the corporate ownership of life.

The canopy occupation in the Briger Forest to hault the destruction of the endangered habitat at the hands of a Biotech development is celebrating its one month anniversary.

The occupation includes two separate sites in the forest, one along side of Interstate 95 to garner public attention and one in the section of the forest specifically designated for the Scripps Biotech and vivarium labs.

It has been a long, but rewarding month.” commented treesitter Rachel Kejewski via phone from her treetop encampment “The Briger Forest is critical habitat for endangered species, it is one of the last forests in the eastern corridor from Palm Beach County to Miami.  Scripps was given $579 million in public funds for their development.  Scripps might have deep pockets, but we have the courage and grit to protect this forest.”

Scipps Biotech Development of the Briger by the numbers*:

$579 million in public dollars

683 – Total number of acres

100 – Acres designated for Scripps spinoffs

1.6 million- Square feet planned for Scripps office and biotech research

2.4 million – Square feet planned for spinoff office and biotech research

500,000 – Square feet planned for commercial/retail/office

2,700 – Residential units

*Palm Beach Post March 30, 2010

for more info visit:
scrapscripps.info
or
evergladesearthfirst.org

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