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Boca Beacon

FL - EDITORIAL: Still waiting on answers regarding the Hill Tide Estates beach saga

I realize a lot of you have questions about who owns what land and beach down by Hill Tide Estates. Our story from last week that talked about security cameras and guards saying “none shall pass” along the beach that so many have walked for so long stirred up a lot of talk and, as I said, many questions.

BY MARCY SHORTUSE – I realize a lot of you have questions about who owns what land and beach down by Hill Tide Estates. Our story from last week that talked about security cameras and guards saying “none shall pass” along the beach that so many have walked for so long stirred up a lot of talk and, as I said, many questions. We are still trying to get some answers, but there’s not a lot of talking going on between us and the entities who have those answers.

You would think the Lee County Property Appraiser would have some answers. Yet when I go to their site and thumb through all of the information on the Hill Tide Estates property, the property lines are vague at best and a large amount of information isn’t filled in yet. Words that I keep finding are “access undetermined,” including on the land that leads to the long dock that has recently been completed. That’s the one that goes out to the old round boat bumpers in the water. Access is undetermined.

I will pull out my favorite old Occam’s Razor, otherwise known as “The Principle of Parsimony” to boil it down to bare bones. Until we get more answers, that’s all we can do.

The state constitution says all beaches below the “mean high-water line,” or the wet sand, are public. Court cases have found that the public has the right to the dry sand parts of beaches in two instances:

• One is if the public has established a “prescriptive easement,” using a particular beach for the past 20 years without objection from private landowners.

• The other is through “customary use,” which is the “ancient,” peaceful use of the beach by the public.

When I go to the Lee County Property Appraiser’s site I see a property line that weaves back and forth on the beach from the state park property up to where the beach ends at Boca Bay. It certainly looks as though there is enough room along the entirety of the beach for a beachgoer to walk.

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