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  1. Pinellas

Pinellas County asks court's help to deal with Redington Long Pier

Officials say the decaying landmark is a hazard to the public
Photo by CHRIS HENDERSONShown are views of the Redington Long Pier, which was battered by high winds during the latter half of the week of Dec. 16
Photo by CHRIS HENDERSONShown are views of the Redington Long Pier, which was battered by high winds during the latter half of the week of Dec. 16
Published Jan. 7, 2019

REDINGTON SHORES — County officials are asking the Pinellas circuit court to order the owner of the historic Redington Long Pier to repair, replace or remove the structure as soon as possible

The request for an injunction was filed Dec. 26 by Assistant County Attorney Jared D. Kahn against JERMC, Ltd., the pier's owner.

JERMC is headed by longtime pier owner Tony Antonious.

A number of allegations relating to the pier's unsafe condition are made in the county's request. The pier's closing by a county judge in 2006 "until repairs are made to the pier that would render it safe for public use" is noted.

Despite that order, Kahn wrote, the current situation is that "the pier does not meet the Florida Building Code requirements for live and wind loads and is in a precarious state of structural functionality. As late as December of 2018, storm and high winds have caused the pier to take substantial damage, including causing portions of the Pier to collapse into the waters below."

In July, JERMC was issued a notice by the county that it was in violation of Pinellas County code, and requiring the company to secure the area and then repair or remove the structure. The pier has been partially closed since February, with only a short portion up to the bait shop open.

Assistant County Attorney Brendan Mackesey said in November that county officials were preparing to sue to have the pier torn down.

The county's newest claim says the pier in its present condition represents a hazard to the public health, safety and welfare.

Also, JERMC's "inaction in regards to the pier constitute ongoing violations of the Pinellas County Code, and cause immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage to the general welfare of Pinellas County and its citizens," Kahn wrote.

Antonious could not be reached for comment.

Redington Shores officials have seen the pier's partial destruction during high winds during the week of Dec. 16 and the problems it has caused. Although the pier is privately owned, town employees have picked up the debris that has washed ashore along the beach.

Beach communities from the Redingtons southward to Madeira Beach have had to deal with pieces cast off from the pier floating in the water and washed up on the beach, Town Clerk Mary Palmer said.

Mayor MaryBeth Henderson called the situation dangerous.

"I was shocked by the number of people on the beach during the time the pier was collapsing and afterwards, with all the debris floating and washed ashore,'' she said. "People were out there in Jet Skis, swimming and playing. It is definitely a danger."

"The filing of the lawsuit to have the pier torn down is huge. If we don't do something about it, this pier is going to be the next Red Tide. Except, instead of dead fish, we have rotting wood, rusty rebar and nails," Henderson said.

North Redington Beach Mayor Bill Queen said his work crews had picked up Dumpsters full of wood planks and debris from the pier's recent partial collapse.

"We've been out there, picking up wood. This is a safety hazard, in the water and on shore. Something needs to be done," Queen said. "My fear is for the things we don't see to pick up, what's buried in the sand, somebody's foot getting ripped by a nail."

Queen thanked tourists and residents "who took the time to pick up the debris and put it in piles for us to pick up. That made our cleanup effort a heck of a lot easier."

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