Landscaper causes irreparable damage to dunes, faces thousands in fines

A landscaper left behind a mess on Marco Island Beach. and the people responsible for the mess have three months to pay thousands of dollars, or risk losing their land.

Joe and Karen Hutchinson say their condo on Marco Island is the perfect spot to spend their winters, but they didn’t know they could be homeless in the next three months.

Code enforcement issued the owner and former landscaper a fine of more than $12,000 for damage to vegetation and sand dunes.

According to code enforcement, the damage is irreparable and irreversible.

Branches, leaves and even a metal shovel were left scattered along the sand dunes. Experts say leaving debris behind like that stops vegetation from growing and increases the chance of beach erosion and coastal flooding.

Officials say the city could take possession of the property until the debt is paid, and after three months could even foreclose on the property.

They add that the owner and their former landscaper will have to comply with city and state mitigation plans. They have the option to appeal within 30 days.

Reporter:Kelsey Kushner
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