TOP STORY, January: Town to receive permit

 

TOP STORY, January: Town to receive permit

 

Date: December 24, 2009
by: Kurt Schultheis | City Editor

 
 

Throughout the holiday week, YourObserver.com will be counting down the top 12 stories of 2009 (one from each month) from our Longboat, East County and Sarasota Observers. Check back each day fro a reprinting — and any relevant updates — of the biggest news items of the year.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED Jan. 29, 2009

It’s almost official.

Two, permeable adjustable-type groins are close to becoming a reality behind The Islander Club to counteract the faster-than-usual erosion of sand in that area.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice of intent to the town Friday, Jan. 23 to issue a permit for the project.

“They have reviewed our application and deemed it complete,” said Public Works Director Juan Florensa. “The state intends to issue us a permit in the very near future.”

The town must now advertise the state’s intent to issue a permit and wait and see if anyone challenges the decision. Anyone intending to dispute the permit must submit a notice in writing to the state for an administrative hearing. Any disputes must be submitted within 14 days from the town’s advertisement, which will be posted Wednesday, Jan. 28.

Pending no further delays and no administrative hearings, Florensa said the joint-coast permit would be officially granted Tuesday, Feb. 17.

Often, the town cannot begin work on the groins until sea-turtle-nesting season, which runs from May 1 to Nov. 1, is over.

The town, Florensa said, will begin to take bids on the estimated six-month construction project this summer.

“We want to hit the ground running when turtle season ends,” Florensa said.

Once construction begins, Florensa said a best-case scenario for completion of the groins is May 2010.

The town — which submitted the permit for the groins in September 2007 — received the intent-to-issue notice after going through a 16-month, formal-application process that did not include several pre-application meetings.

The state decided to issue the permit after agreeing with the town’s fourth submittal, or request for additional information, which included a complete set of construction drawings.

According to the state’s intent-to-issue document, two groins consisting of a matrix of concrete beams can be constructed 20 feet seaward of the Islander Club’s seawall. The groins will be 252-feet long and will measure 11-feet-4-inches wide. Both groins will be capped with a concrete deck.

The groins can be adjusted by the addition or removal of concrete, teeth-like elements that can make the structures more or less permeable.

The town received a positive biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year that paved the way for the permit’s issuance.

Although the federal organization believes that several island species, such as turtles and birds, could be impacted by the project, it determined that the project is not likely to greatly impact sea turtles.

As a condition of the permit, sea-turtle monitoring must be done before, during and after construction of the project is complete.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also recommends surveys for nesting success of sea turtles in the groin-project area for a minimum of three years after construction. This is to determine whether sea-turtle nesting and hatchlings have been adversely impacted by the groins. Informational signs regarding sea turtles and nesting season should also be placed at all beach access points, the opinion recommends.

The approximately $2.5 million project was previously approved for 22.79% cost sharing with the state. To date, the town has spent approximately $253,000 to design and permit the project.

Islander resident David Brenner, who watches from his balcony as the sand behind his condominium tower gets closer and closer to the seawall, was happy to hear the news.

“It will be nice to have a real solution finally in place,” Brenner said.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at kschultheis@yourobserver.com

ALL ABOUT GROINS
• Groins are protective, concrete structures that extend from the shore into the water to prevent a beach from washing away.
• Permeable-adjustable groins — those that are more porous — have been much discussed and are the town’s choice to stop The Islander’s eroding beach.

 

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