Chiquita Lock dispute hearing gets under way
The fight over the removal of the Chiquita Lock moved to court Thursday with those opposed to the state granting the city of Cape Coral a needed permit coming out with the gloves off.
In the first of two days of expected testimony at the hearing, Administrative Law Judge Francine M. Ffolkes considered arguments made by representatives of the city and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as well as from the petitioners who maintain the water control structure is needed to protect water quality.
The city, which has requested state permission to remove the lock, and FDEP, which has issued notice of its intent to issue the permit, testified that removal of the aging structure would not contribute to pollution.
Officials testified the lock was, in fact, doing little to prevent the free co-mingling of water it was originally intended to prevent.
Megan Mills for the Florida DEP, said that because the lock's failure was causing an exchange of water, the removal of the lock would not cause water degradation.
Michael Hannon, attorney for the petitioners, which include the Matlacha Civic Association and a handful of residents from Matlacha, St. James City and the Cape, though, aggressively pursued examinations that were much longer than those of the city's and the DEP's counsel, arguing that the lock itself wasn't a cause of pollution.
He also claimed that there was no lock failure, and that the permits were approved by suppositions and not fact.
City and FDEP testimony and witness examination bogged down frequently with objects and questions.