TALLAHASSEE – It’s official: Gov. Ron DeSantis has retracted Aqua by the Bay developer Carlos Beruff’s recent appointment to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
On Friday, Jan. 18, DeSantis retracted 46 appointments that departing Gov. Rick Scott made on Jan. 4 and Jan. 7, and Beruff’s FWC appointment was among those retracted.
The retracted appointments apply only to those whose appointments require confirmation by the Florida Senate, and it’s still possible that Beruff could be reappointed. DeSantis also retracted Joshua Kellum’s FWC appointment.
FWC commissioners serve five-year terms and enact rules and regulations regarding the state’s fish and wildlife resources.
On Friday, DeSantis sent a letter to Florida Senate President Bill Galvano informing him of his decision.
“I agree many of these individuals are outstanding citizens who are experts in their respected fields. I thank these individuals for their willingness to serve our state. They will be afforded every consideration as my office re-opens the application process to fill these critical appointment vacancies,” DeSantis’ letter said.
DeSantis also retracted Mark Goodson’s appointment to the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota District Board of Trustees.
Additional retractions of Scott appointments include appointees to the Board of Governors to the State University System, the Board of Medicine, the Board of Veterinary Medicine, the Construction Industry Licensing Board, the Florida Citrus Commission, the Florida Real Estate Commission, the Florida Transportation Commission and more.
In late 2017, Manatee County Commissioners approved the Aqua by the Bay development plans that call for the construction of up to 16 95-foot-tall condo buildings, an unspecified number of buildings between 36 and 75 feet tall and a total of 2,894 residential units.
The approved development plans also include 78,000 square feet of commercial space and a man-made crystal lagoon, and there are references to private docks. The proposed 20-year construction project is to take place on a large piece of vacant land located between Sarasota Bay and the El Conquistador Parkway in Manatee County.
As of this afternoon, more than 7,700 people had signed a Change.org petition opposing Beruff’s FWC appointment.
“The appointment of a developer with a track record of putting profit over protection of the environment is unconscionable,” according to the petition, created by Naples resident Michelle Eddleman McCormick.
Anna Maria City Commissioner Carol Carter is among those who signed the petition.
Some who opposed Beruff’s appointment cited the Aqua by the Bay development.
“I believe that this is a conflict of interest seeing as he is attempting to destroy our shoreline to build the Aqua by the Bay development,” Shaun Reilly wrote when signing the petition.
“He has and is destroying wildlife nurseries around Florida, i.e. Aqua by the Bay,” Robert Kinney wrote when signing the petition.
“This man is not an environmentalist and conservationist who cares about wildlife. Please replace him with someone who has a track record of protecting Florida’s natural resources, our water, wetlands, rural areas and wildlife,” Pat Lindsey wrote.
“Talk about a fox guarding the hen house,” Tammy Johnson wrote.