Jupiter can’t collect in mangroves suit

A couple fined $1.6 million by the town of Jupiter two years ago for illegally removing mangroves will not have to pay the penalty, the Palm Beach Post reported, citing a recent circuit court ruling.

Roger and Myrna Byrd, who argued in court that they did not know destroying the mangroves was illegal, will still have to pay the town a $15,000 fine for not obtaining a permit to flood their land and adjacent town-owned property with sand.

A magistrate will decide whether the couple with pay $58,000 in court fees.

Jupiter could take the case to Florida’s fourth circuit court of appeals.

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The town levied the fine in February 2011 after charging the couple with removing 109 mangroves without proper permits.

The couple later turned down the town’s offer to settle the matter by charging $109,000, or $1,000 per tree, the Post reported.

Mangroves, dense vegetation in shallow water integral to erosion, have been protected by state law since 1985.

The Byrds bought the property on Riverside Drive on the Loxahatchee River in 2010 for $1.2 million. [Palm Beach Post]Emily Schmall