SFWMD board member Melanie Peterson and general counsel Brian Accardo resign

A South Florida Water Management District board member and the state agency’s general counsel and chief of staff have resigned.

Vice Chair Melanie Peterson and Brian Accardo quit at a time when a Florida congressman and leading environmentalists are calling for the entire board and Executive Director Ernie Marks to resign over a controversial sugar land lease.

Peterson and Accardo did not cite the controversy in their resignation letters.

Peterson quit with 3½ years left on her volunteer board term. Scott appointed her to serve from July 2014 until March 2022, representing an at-large area that includes St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

“My businesses require more of my personal attention,” she wrote in a Jan. 1 letter to Scott. Peterson is a Realtor at The Fite Group Luxury Homes, the district’s website says.

Private practice

Accardo, whose last day was Jan. 4, now works for Manson Bolves Donaldson Varn, the law firm confirmed to TCPalm Monday. The firm focuses on water, property rights, administrative and regulatory law with offices in Tampa, Orlando and Tallahassee.

The district, which paid Accardo over $147,000 annually, hired him as general counsel in January 2016 and made him chief of staff as well in September 2017.

Before that, according to the district’s website, Accardo was a:

  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection special counsel and program director for five years
  • Private environmental law attorney in Tallahassee
  • Project manager at a South Florida engineering and construction firm.

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