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Date of Issue: October 14, 2009

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Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash has made a formal request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a public hearing on Longboat Key's permit application seeking to use man-made materials to control beach erosion on the south side of Longboat Pass.

McClash said in his Oct. 1 letter to the Corps that he was making his request as "an individual commissioner," and noted that the Corps permit process allows anyone to ask for a public hearing. He asked that the Corps hold the hearing in Manatee County and, ultimately, deny the permit application.

McClash listed 11 specific concerns for the project and indicated that the town of Longboat Key may have "caused the increase in beach erosion" by dredging sand near the eroded areas.

McClash said putting revetments in the near-shore waters at Longboat’s north end will create public safety and boating hazards.

He said the use of man-made materials would "set a precedent" among Florida west coast erosion-control efforts. McClash also cited concern for tourism and the environment of Beer Can Island at the southwest end of the Longboat Pass Bridge — opposite Coquina Beach — if Longboat Key proceeds with its plan.

Following publication of the McClash letter, Manatee County Commission Chair Gwen Brown issued a statement that McClash's request did not reflect the opinion of the board and he was making his request as an individual, rather than as a commission member.

The town of Longboat Key has spent nearly $400,000 in the process of preparing and submitting its application to the Corps.

Efforts to reach Charles Schnepel of the Corps' Jacksonville office for comment on the McClash request were unsuccessful.