Judge rules for DEP, but Cortez fish camp gets stay order
Raymond Guthrie Jr. doesn’t need to dismantle and remove the stilt house he built in Sarasota Bay near the Cortez-based A.P. Bell Fish Co. or pay fines for ignoring a Florida Department of Environmental Protection order — at least not yet.
While 12th Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas entered a summary judgment Feb. 5 in favor of the DEP and against Guthrie, the judge also stayed its execution. The DEP will not be able to enforce the court order during the duration of the stay.
Nicholas called it an “indefinite stay,” declining to set an end date as requested by DEP assistant general counsel Marianna Sarkisyan.
In ruling on the summary judgment, Nicholas said his decision was based on a proper November 2017 DEP final order, as well as Guthrie’s failure to respond or request a hearing.
As for his decision to stay the judgment, the judge said: “It’s appropriate to stay the destructive provisions with regard to this structure and see how this other case plays out,” referring to a case filed by A.P. Bell in May 2018. Karen Bell, A.P. Bell’s president, claims the land under the stilt house belongs to her company.
In addition, the judge postponed enforcement of the penalties DEP imposed in the final order that require Guthrie to pay $6,500 in fines, costs and expenses.