LEFT to RIGHT: Islanders seated for the presentation, 2. Sally B. Johnson of INFO CENTRAL, event hose, greets attendees 3. From left to right: Rick Burnett (Palm Island Resort), Michael Poff, Sally B. Johnson, Matt Logan.
INFO CENTRAL PRESENTS:
UPDATE on the SOUTH BEACH FILL PROJECT
With Michael Poff, President Coastal Engineering Consultants and Matt Logan Coastal Projects Manager, Charlotte County Public Works. 04.23.19 @ 11:00 AM @ the Palm Island Resort Clubhouse.
The South Beach Fill Project runs along the gulf shoreline of Knight-Palm-Don Pedro Islands from the south end of Palm Island resort to the south end of Colony Don Pedro.
The Charlotte County coastal management project kicked off in 2003. After that, the hurricanes of 2004-2005 created the need for additional sand placement in 2006. At that time, FEMA paid half of the bill. Restoration was accomplished in 2011. Following storms in 2008 and 2012, FEMA paid 40% of the cost of that shoreline maintenance. At that time, the beach fill area was extended down towards Don Pedro State Park to include beachfront homes south of the Colony. A terminal groin was built at the north end of the beach in 2017.
Manasota Key did not participate in the original beach program in 2004. They did proceed with the placement of a jetty on Englewood beach, and 80-100K yards of sand is now being trapped by the jetty. When Charlotte County got together in 2018 with stakeholders, Manasota Key came on board with beach renourishment. Manasota Key will share costs with our island for the mobilization of equipment for the project.
Due to the beach renourishment project, little to no property damage has occurred through the storms over the past 16 years. Coastal Engineering estimates that the beach has been performing as expected.
Specific to the project, they will add 6” to berm to accommodate sea level rise. The beach building project is not designed to stop flooding – it is designed to break waves away from the shore so they don’t break on your house.
Along the length of the beach 1.5 miles of shoreline will be renourished. They will build about 100 feet of beach initially, knowing that 50 feet will erode. This will leave 50 feet of beach between the beachfront homes and the water line. The design volume is 250,000 cubic yards of sand, which is average. This also indicates that the beach continues to perform as expected.
There are 5 permitted “borrow areas”, which are mounds of sand (“sand ridges”) that have been identified under water to remove sand for placement. This sand has a greyer color since it has been under water for thousands of years. It is the same sand that has been placed on Siesta Key and south Venice Beach.
The Palm Island inlet area will be nourished in coordination with the Stump Pass dredging. The inlet area and north beach parts of the project are scheduled for 2021. The south beach fill area will see work starting in the fall of 2019.
WCIND (West Coast Inland Navigation District) owns two lots on the beach, which will be used for construction access and public access to the beach to qualify for state funding.
A review of cross-section mapping displayed a beach profile before the original project in 2003 compared with the beach profile in 2018, which showed that the beach has improved in elevation. Several thousand feet at the resort along the shoreline has accreted naturally, which will be saving cost on the renourishment project. We now have natural secondary and tertiary dunes in that area at the north end of the Island. About 3000 feet south of the resort the beach has eroded about 100 feet, but it is still wider than the design template.
Mr. Poff indicated that Coastal Engineering and Charlotte County both are pleased with the project performance. The process of finding the borrow areas included samples extracted from the sand ridges by core, then tested for grain size and color. The rigorous treatment makes sure that the sand is compatible for nesting sea turtles and shorebirds.
The cost of the project is $6.3M total, out of which FEMA will be paying $1M. Our project is 3rd in the state as a funding priority. So as long as a minimum of $25-$30M is appropriated for all projects ($50M is expected to be approved for statewide beach funding) the state will kick in $1.9 million. Stakeholders will be paying $3.9M. They anticipate that FEMA may provide up to $2.2M if the project is approved for a larger build-up due to damage from Hurricane Irma.
Timeline: Now-Fall 2019
Ideally, they will start pumping in November after Sea Turtle season and finish before turtle season begins in 2020. Mr. Poff noted that they do have permission to pump during turtle season if necessary, so they can work during April-May-June-July if there are delays or other issues.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN:
A pipeline will laid to move sand from north to south. The pipeline will stay in place through project as it is laid in. While the pipeline will stay where it is laid, the other equipment will move down the beach. This will include some bulldozers, a dump shack and a shack for workers. They will be working 24-7, so you can expect some disturbance on the beach. The project can’t be done any other way. Construction takes a few days to build about 200 feet of beach.
A consolation prize: you can look for new shells in the deposits! They’ve been under water for years. But keep in mind you should go shelling only AFTER the construction has moved away.
The high water mark was established in 2003 – it was platted as the “erosion control line”. This line is the seaward construction line for all property owners on the beach.
What is the public beach?
There was some discussion regarding a complicated ruling by the FL State legislature last year which was an attempt to give counties more legal support for ordinances restricting behaviors on the beach. They referenced the common law “customary use” doctrine as applied to property, wherein if a property can be shown to have continuous use historically, that specific continuing use should continue. It was a complicated ruling, needing legal briefing from the state.
However, this discussion only applies to beachfronts where there is no clear delineation of private vs. public property. This is not the case on the Island.
25+ counties in Florida participate in beach programs, including Charlotte County. In these programs, the public beach is clearly defined. The state of Florida owns the beach from the Erosion Control Line seaward. Property owners own the beach from the ECL landward. The Erosion Control Line was established in 2003 before the first beach renourishment was started. The line roughly sits at the toe of the dune, landward side.
Will the public access parking areas be maintained?
Every year County O&M comes out and checks the parking areas surrounding the public beach accesses to see if there’s need to add more marle and shell. We have more than enough parking spaces to meet the funding obligation.
How can we get to the beach while the pipeline is in place?
Sand ramps are built to get across the pipes.
How was the taxing apportionment done?
Everyone on the island pays a part of the $3.3M cost. Pricing for the beach renourishment MSBU (Municipal Services Benefits Unit) was forecast based on cost-sharing. Charlotte County has re-analyzed all of the beachfront owners so that those who live on beach pay more as well as higher density units pay more into the taxing unit. Single family units off the beach pay a different rate into the taxing unit. The ongoing taxing unit is based on renourishing the beach every 8 years.
The future dredging of Stump Pass will be paid for by the Stump Pass MSTU (Municipal Services Taxing Unit) which includes all of West County.
Question regarding why Manasota Key will be starting before us
Concern was expressed about the project starting on Manasota Key before starting here. Mr. Poff explained that they do not have permission to work on Manasota Key during turtle season, so they must finish before 5/1/2020. On Manasota Key the density of turtle nesting is much higher than ours, so completing their part of the project before turtle season is a priority. However, if they have enough equipment to work with they will try to run both projects concurrently.
Discussion of beach-related ordinances
Most barrier islands have ordinances governing activities on the beach. Clarity and enforcement is a pervasive challenge. A lawsuit in the Panhandle motivated the State to come up with the principle of common law “customary use” to give counties the ability to create regulations for beach use in instances where the area of public use on the beach has not been defined.
Mr. Poff gave suggestions to address issues including: add the cost of increased law enforcement presence to an MSTU and following simple practices like putting trash cans out for debris.
With respect to the ordinance prohibiting dogs on the beach, Mr. Poff cited federal law. Sea turtle eggs and shorebird nests are protected by the Endangered Species Act (1973) and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. He explained the restriction: dogs frighten adult birds off their nest, at which point there is a good chance they will not return. This results in the eggs incubating in the sun and the eggs will die. In the instance of dogs on the beach, federal law trumps local ordinance.
There is no debate about the beach restrictions on our Islands. Seaward of the ECL, county ordinances are in effect on public land. It’s only in question on privately owned land. Counties that have established ECLs have no confusion due to the fact that the beach is public seaward of the ECL.
University of Florida law school has been doing a lot of research on this. Information is available at FSBPA.COM (Florida Shoreline and Beach Preservation Association) in the form of presentations at a FSBPA conference about the law & beaches.
Friday, September 21, 2018 8:55 a.m.
Customary Use Doctrine: Recent Legal and Legislative Developments
Thomas Ankersen, Levin College of Law, University of Florida, Gainesville — David Theriaque, Esquire, Theriaque & Spain, Tallahassee — Holly Parker, Florida Regional Manager, Surfrider Foundation, Tallahassee — Brenna Malouf Durden, Shareholder, Lewis, Longman & Walker, Jacksonville
Question about the importance of dune walkovers
Dune walkovers mitigate constant wear and tear on dune plants. Without them, trails are worn through the dune and this opens gaps of lower elevation for water to flow through putting beachfront homes in jeopardy.
Should the public accesses have ADA-compliant dune walkovers?
The beach renourishment project funding mechanism for the state does not require ADA accessible access. ADA are guidelines only, not a requirement. In one project they investigated using MOBI mats for ADA accessibility. However, you can’t leave MOBI mats down on the beach during nesting season, as it takes up habitat space and interferes with turtle and shorebird nesting. The Endangered Species regulations trump ADA guidelines.
A copy of the project update presentation should appear the website by 4/25. [NOTE: PIE will post the link as soon as it is available] Mr. Poff reminded the audience that there is a monthly meeting of the Beaches & Shores Advisory Committee that Island stakeholders are welcome to attend. Updates are posted on the county website so you can check over the summer for further information.