notebook - Southwest Florida Water Management District

notebook - Southwest Florida Water Management District


status report is due to the ALJ on December 14, 2012.

Joseph E.

Zagame, Jr. v.


Department of

Agriculture and


Services and


No. 12-1356

Division of



R. Moore/M.


Challenge to Binding

Determination regarding

Agricultural Exemption provided in

Section 373.406(2), F.S.

In December 2010, the District Governing Board authorized the

Office of General Counsel to initiate litigation against Ramaela of

Clermont, LP (Owner) and any other appropriate parties to obtain

compliance, a monetary penalty, and recovery of District

enforcement costs, court costs, and attorney’s fees concerning

unauthorized activities conducted in 2007 on Owner’s property in

Sumter County (the Property). The unauthorized construction

activities involved dredging and filling impacts to wetlands on the

Property without the required environmental resource permit (ERP).

On January 4, 2011, the Owner submitted an ERP, application

number 643440, to the District concerning the unauthorized

activities. The District issued a request for additional information to

Owner on February 1, 2011. The ERP application is currently on an

extension of time to provide the requested information.


On November 14, 2011, the District requested from the Florida

Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) a

binding determination as to whether the activities on the Property

were exempt from ERP requirements pursuant to the agricultural

exemption provided in Section 373.406(2), F.S. On April 13, 2012,

FDACS issued its binding determination, finding that the activities

conducted on the Property were not exempt from permitting

requirements. On March 5, 2012, Owner filed a Petition for Formal

Administrative Hearing (petition) with FDACS, challenging the

binding determination. FDACS, on March 8, 2012, issued an order

dismissing Owner’s petition with leave to file an amended petition.

On April 6, 2012, Owner filed an amended petition with FDACS.

On April 16, 2012, FDACS referred the matter to the Division of

Administrative Hearings (DOAH) to conduct a formal hearing.

Because the District requested the binding determination from

FDACS and because the outcome of any such proceedings have

the potential to impact the District’s ability to administer and enforce

its ERP requirements and the active compliance and enforcement

action against Owner, intervention in any challenge to the binding

determination would be necessary to preserve the District’s

interests. On April 24, 2012, the District Governing Board

authorized intervention in any proceeding initiated by Owner or any

other appropriate parties against FDACS with respect to the April

13, 2012 binding determination.

On May 9, 2012, the District filed its Petition for Leave to Intervene

in the DOAH proceeding. DOAH granted the District’s request to

intervene on May 10, 2012. The hearing is set for July 10, 2012, in

Leesburg, Lake County, Florida.