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Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 11:15am

CEO Fined For Moving Sand Dune

Officials are fining a Tybee Island hotel executive for moving a sand dune.

Department of Natural Resources officials ended a criminal investigation last week, charging the CEO $100.

Civil penalties could be harsher.

The 1979 Shore Protection Act makes it a crime to alter the beach without a permit.

The law allows for civil penalties of as much as $10,000 a day for each day the violation existed.

Ocean Plaza Beach Resort executive Harry Spirides admits to ordering the sand dune moved in mid-February.

Compliance manager Buck Bennett of the state Department of Natural Resources says, civil fines could be stiff.

"The law does allow for up to $10,000 a day for each of the violations as long as the violations exist," Bennett says. "But, we will look at this with an open mind and assign the appropriate penalty as necessary, if it's necessary."

In total, Spirides could be fined $1.5 million.

He also says moving the sand dunes endangers properties that need protection from storms.

"Its also important that you don't disrupt the dunes which also protect the inland properties from storm surge," Bennett says. "And that was why the shore protection act was originally made was in order to protect the inland properties."

Spirides hired four men in February to shovel the sand at night.

The hotel executive says, he was making beach access easier for his hotel guests.

The DNR has yet to announce a penalty.

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