The state Department of Transportation demolished the parking lot of the popular Key Largo eatery Harriette’s Restaurant at mile marker 95.7 Wednesday afternoon.
FDOT sent owner Harriette Mattson an e-mailed "courtesy notification" Tuesday stating the asphalt under seven parking spaces along U.S. 1 would be ripped up because it is state right of way.
Mattson has known the spaces were FDOT's since she bought the restaurant in 1982, but for the past three decades the state didn’t seem to mind.
That changed in February 2012 when FDOT blocked off the spaces with plastic, flexible delineators. That outraged many members of the community, as well as several of Mattson’s fellow business owners.
Within months, the barriers were down and customers were again parking in the spaces.
Mattson said Wednesday that she has been paying FDOT $129 a month for the past six months to use the spaces, and she’s offered to buy the tiny area from the state.“They sent the last check back,” she said. “The spaces are on FDOT right of way and they’re taking it.”
FDOT plans to pour a median bordered by a 6-inch curb where the front parking lot is now located.
Maria A. Llanes, the FDOT right of way manager who sent Mattson the July 8 e-mail, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
This story is developing.