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Fane Lozman ordered to remove shipping container, floating docks from Lake Worth Lagoon

Property owner says he plans to appeal federal decision
Fane Lozman's floating docks and a shipping container on Lake Worth Lagoon.png
Posted at 12:04 PM, Mar 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-23 16:21:35-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida ordered Fane Lozman to remove a shipping container and floating docks on Lake Worth Lagoon in Riviera Beach.

District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks signed the order on March 15 in West Palm Beach.

Lozman, who said he is planning to appeal this decision, has been fighting with the city of Riviera Beach for decades on various properties. In a 7-2 decision in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Lozman's home that was once anchored at the Riviera Beach Marina was not a vessel.

In 2014, Lozman purchased an 8-acre property on the northwest corner of Singer Island on the lagoon where the shipping contain and floating docks are located. The eastern edge is where his private beach is located and eight-tenths mile east of the Intercoastal Waterway.

Lozman, told WPTV this is a state issue and not pertaining to federal regulations because the property is eigtht-tenths mile east of the Intercoastal Waterway.

"The state of Florida says it not navigatable waters. A lot of time just a mud," Lozman said. "This judge did what he did because he is an environmentalist."

In 2021, a federal complaint alleged Lozman violated the U.S. Rivers and Harbors Act by placing the shipping container, which Lozman modified to include windows, doors, stairs, a rooftop deck and other additions, on floating docks in navigable waters without authorization.

Lozman has since removed several pieces of floating docks from Lake Worth Lagoon, but two floating docks and the modified shipping container remained, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

He moved the floating docks and shipping container to different areas in Lake Worth Lagoon and anchored them, DOJ said. Floating dock split apart.

Lozman’s floating docks became unmoored on several occasions including once when the dock with the shipping container on it floated across Lake Worth Lagoon and beached at a public park, according to DOJ.

The floating docks together weigh over 100,000 pounds.

In May 2023, Lozman said the home was broken into and ransacked when it tied up in Munyon's Cove near Singer Island.

Lake Worth Lagoon is Palm Beach County’s largest estuary at up to a mile wide and approximately 21 miles from North Palm Beach to Ocean Ridge, with two inlets connecting it to the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway cuts through Lake Worth Lagoon.

"Building or placing structures in navigable U.S. waters without authorization is a violation of the Rivers and Harbors Act,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said in a news release. "Unlawful structures can pose increased risks of harm to others, as in this case. We’re committed to enforcing the law.”

U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida said: "The Rivers and Harbors Act provides for the safety of navigable U.S. waters."

The USACE’s Jacksonville District referred the case to the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division The

In 2020, Riviera Beach re-zoned his property and other submerged land along Singer Island, making the land a preservation area and off-limits to developers.

In 2022, Lozman sued Riviera Beach over the $49 million he claimed city officials robbed him of when they rezoned his land. He was planning to take his case to the high court again.