Manatee County Government Administration Building 1st Floor, Patricia M. Glass Chambers 9:00 am - November 7, 2019
November 7, 2019 Land Use Meeting
Agenda Item #5

Derelict Vessel Settlement Agreement for the Caroline C


Contact and/or Presenter Information
Alan Lai Hipp, Environmental Program Manager
Parks and Natural Resources Dept.

Action Requested
Approval and authorization for the Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners to sign the settlement agreement drafted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC).

Enabling/Regulating Authority
Florida Statute 125

Background Discussion
The Caroline C is an 80-foot, 170 ton, steel freighter which sank in the Manatee River and was subsequently raised by the County at the end of September 2019. Parks and Natural Resources has been coordinating with FWC on an investigation and grant application which would enable the County to remove the vessel and be reimbursed for 75% of those costs by the State. Parks and Natural Resources presented the  FWC Derelict Vessel Grant application for Board approval at the October 22nd BOCC regular meeting. 
FWC's derelict vessel investigation concluded on October 21, 2019, the end of the owners 21-day administrative hearing request deadline. However, on the last day the owner filed a petition for an administrative hearing. This petition was initially denied by the FWC without prejudice; however, in this case FWC was required by statute to grant the owner an additional 21 days to file an amended correct petition. This 21-day period will end on November 12, 2019. If the owner submits a correct petition during this time period, an administrative hearing will be scheduled by the State; it is unknown how long that process may take. If the owner does not submit a corrected petition, there will be no additional time given.

Marine Resources staff and the FWC recognize the urgent need for this vessel to be removed from County waters due to the environmental and potential public safety threats it could cause if it were to sink again and the action to raise the vessel was based on these concerns. The vessel is no longer seaworthy and the integrity of its' hull is compromised; it will sink again if not maintained. FWC legal counsel contacted the owner of the Caroline C and drafted a settlement agreement which would expedite the removal and disposal of the vessel. As part of the agreement, the owner will not file any additional hearing requests which would prolong the process nor challenge any State or County action to remove and destroy the vessel. In exchange, the State and County will not seek to collect any costs or fees related to the vessel nor prevent the owner from registering a vehicle or vessel.
If the Board agrees to the conditions of the settlement agreement, the process to remove the vessel may proceed immediately upon execution of the agreement by all parties.
Current County expenses related to the raising and ongoing maintenance of the vessel to keep it floating are at approximately $40,000. These costs are not part of the removal and disposal of the vessel and are not reimbursable by the State.
It has been the County Attorney's experience that recovery of such costs from vessel owners has been difficult in such situations. The owner of the vessel has consistently claimed to have limited financial resources.

County Attorney Review
Formal Written Review (Opinion memo must be attached)

Explanation of Other

Reviewing Attorney

Instructions to Board Records
Please provide a copy of the signed  original to Alan Lai Hipp,

Cost and Funds Source Account Number and Name

Amount and Frequency of Recurring Costs

Attachment:  Bonham Proposed Settlement - 10.25.19.pdf
Attachment:  Caroline C Derelict Vessel Settlement Agreement; CAO Matter No. 2019-0549.pdf