By Hannah Dockery
The Isle of Palms Council Chambers were cramped on Tuesday, March 12, as residents from the northern end of the island piled in Town Hall to hear a presentation on behalf of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM).
The issue is a familiar one: sand scraping and erosion.
The City of Isle of Palms currently has a permit in place with OCRM to scrape sand from the area between 53rd Avenue and the 17th tee of the Links Course two times over the length of the permit; now, the City hopes to increase the number of scraping events from two to four, and change the expiration date of the permit to coincide with the Department of Army permit, set to expire on March 31, 2017. The total volume of sand moved would remain the same, at a maximum of 500,000 cubic yards. Up to 250,000 cubic yards of sand can be moved during one event from the stable or accretional areas to the eroded areas, and the scraped areas must not break the pre-established 400 foot buffer.
The issue has generated debate throughout Wild Dunes, especially within the Ocean Point community where the proposed scraping areas would affect homeowners’ private beaches.
Dave Kynoski, Chief Operating Officer of the Wild Dunes Community Association spoke in favor of increasing the scraping events from two to four. In 2008, Wild Dunes owners overwhelmingly supported the renourishment project, and contributed over $2 million to make it happen, he reported. “We also supported the 2010 application, and we support the current request to have a joint expiration in 2017. Administratively, this is the right thing to do,” he said. “We strongly support increasing the event from two to four as requested by the Isle of Palms.” Kynoski added that sand redistribution requires flexibility, and flexibility was necessary to address temporary focused erosion problems as documented by coastal scientists.
Reps from the resort agreed; Jack Smith of Nelson Law firm representing Wild Dunes Resort commented that, “What we are looking at is episodic erosion that will continue regardless…The only property that would be affected is the golf course owner, which is Wild Dunes,” and concluded by saying the Resort fully supports the request for increased scraping events.
Ocean Point property owners, however, disagree. Rob Young, on behalf of Ocean Point, stressed that homeowners have serious concerns about scraping sand from an area that has already experienced severe erosion problems. He stated that the reason the area has gained sand in recent years is because of insipient dunes. “The dunes are vegetated. They weren’t two years ago, but they are now. If you remove the sand, you’re condemning dunes,” he said. Ocean Point resident Tony Santiago commented that sand scraping off of the Ocean Point beach in 2005 and 2006 led to the severe erosion that occurred in 2007. “I saw what scraping does the first time. It erodes. I think we should replenish in other ways, and I would pay for it,” he said.
Sean Griffin, president of the Ocean Point Homeowners Association, added, “We definitely want the affected area getting more sand. It does nothing but add to our property value. We could debate long term effects year after year…we aren’t against the area getting more sand, we are against borrowing from the proposed area.”
Public record was open for comment through March 27, and the hearing was held solely to gather public comments. OCRM continues to review the application before any further decisions are made.