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Image Copyright © 2009 Melissa Blazier: View the full image gallery. Set out to rescue an endangered beach species, like the piping plover, and you'll find plenty of allies. But try to preserve an endangered architectural oddity? Maybe not so much. Even so, a variety of practical and legal obstacles has not deterred Naples, Florida, property owner John Tosto from persevering in his quest to move and renovate a set of unusual dome structures on a narrow strip of disappearing Florida beach called "Cape Romano". Dome home renovator John Tosto, of Naples, has run up against state permitting hurdles and county code enforcement orders since his family’s trust bought the private retreat in 2005," reports the Marco Eagle ("Owner looks to resurrect dome home on Cape Romano," by Eric Staats). But Tosto is determined, the Eagle reports: "'It’s just something I wanted from the first time I saw it,' Tosto said. 'That was it.'" Unfortunately for Tosto, local authorities are also sticking to their guns. On November 19, county building officials slapped Tosto with a fine of $187,000 for failing to comply with an earlier order to tear the structures down, the Naples News reported ("Collier imposes $187,000 fine on Cape Romano dome home owners," by Lance Shearer).
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Built in 1981 by Midwestern geologist Robert Lee, the domes are currently accessible only by boat, and have been abandoned for years. But they're a popular hangout for beach partiers and a tourist attraction for kayakers — and they survived the onslaught of Hurricane Wilma in 2005. The land they sit on, however, was severely eroded by that storm; and to add to the complications, the ground itself is state property and is managed by the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Tosto's plan to relocate the domes to private property and restore them to code compliance will also have to work around the nesting seasons of sea turtles and shorebirds. But even in the face of ongoing resistance and fresh fines, Tosto himself remains optimistic — telling the Naples News, "If I get a permit, the fines will go away."