'Beer Can Island' owners hope to reach deal with Code Enforcement

- Pine Key is an 11-acre island with no running water or electricity.  Most people know the Hillsborough County boating destination as 'Beer Can Island.' 

Over the last year, the four friends who bought the property have worked to clean it up and make it safe for visitors.

"They've expended quite a bit of money and resources in doing that,” said attorney David Kronenfeld. “Anything from installing port-o-johns -- so that there's sanitary facilities on the island -- to providing trash cans and pick up."

Rules were established for visitors, there's a campground, an event stage, and folks can buy food and drinks at the floating tiki bar.

But Monday, the owners got a notice of violation from Hillsborough County Code Enforcement saying to "remove all unpermitted structures and cease all events."

"Every parcel needs to have the appropriate zoning for what's going on that property, so our position is that they need the proper zoning to do whatever their doing," Ron Spiller, director of Hillsborough County Code Enforcement, said.

Code Enforcement inspected the island after getting a complaint.  The property has no land use or zoning designation.

The owner's attorney says the rules are regulations fall into a gray area, and they're not doing anything wrong.

"For instance, one of the structures is actually registered as a boat, so is it a boat or is it a structure? Which regulations apply? Which jurisdictions apply?" Kronenfeld wondered.

He argues there's Sunshine State case law from the 70’s saying un-zoned, private property can be used for any lawful purpose.  But according to Code Enforcement, the rules are clear.

"Code Enforcement has given them 30 days to come into compliance,” Spiller said.  “Compliance at this point would be to cease operation or to seek proper zoning."

If the owners don’t comply, they can be fined up to $1,000 a day.

The owners and Kronenfeld plan to work with the county to hopefully reach an agreement.

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