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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

A line in the disappearing sand
Property owners in the 750-760 block of North Shore Drive in Anna Maria met with Mayor SueLynn and Manatee County Ecosystems Administrator Charlie Hunsicker Aug. 5 on what little is left of the beach in front of their homes, only to learn there is nothing the county can offer them for immediate assistance. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
Little immediate help for eroded beachfront

There are probably a lot of property owners along North Shore Drive in Anna Maria who are now wishing they had signed on for the 2002 beach renourishment project.

A recent series of westerly storms and accompanying winds have seriously eroded the beach in front of a number of houses in the area, causing waves to crash against homes (The Islander, July 28, Aug. 4) and beaches to disappear. At the same time, areas along the Anna Maria beach that were renourished have survived the storms with no long-lasting effects, according to Manatee County Ecosystems Administrator Charlie Hunsicker.

Hunsicker met with affected property owners and Mayor SueLynn on what's left of the beach in front of 753 N. Shore Drive. Unfortunately, he told the owners, there's little the county can do because the area was not included in the county's 2002 beach renourishment project.

Because some property owners in the area declined to sign easements, the county decided not to renourish the few selected portions of beach in this area where owners did sign.

"Had this been renourished, we could have provided some immediate relief," he told the dismayed owners.

But there are some erosion prevention measures the owners can do individually and at their own expense, he said, like getting a Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit for sandbags, as North Shore Drive property owner Julie Trouner and her family have done.

"It's just a shame," said Trouner. "We signed for beach renourishment, but others along here didn't sign. Now, we have to face this," she said, as she watched how waves had eroded the sand around her seawalled property and damaged some rebar keeping the seawall together.

Other property owners who attended the meeting with Hunsicker claimed they didn't sign up for renourishment because their attorney had advised them that someone might be able to build in front of their property.

"I guess it was bad advice," said one owner who asked not to be identified. "I wish now I and the others had joined."

Property owner Alfred Chiles was one owner who wanted beach renourishment. Now, he'll likely have to pay for any measures to halt erosion out of his own pocket.

"It should not have come to this," Chiles said.

SueLynn she spoke with Steve Davis of the DEP who inspected the beach area last week and submitted a report to the DEP's Coastal Systems Division and its supervisor, Mike Barnett.

The mayor said she's arranging a meeting of the affected owners and other concerned property owners near Bean Point with West, Barnett, county officials and Rick Spadoni of Coastal Planning and Engineering of Boca Raton to discuss options for immediate beach renourishment. She said she hopes to have the meeting later this week.

Unfortunately, most of the options are at property owner expense, but those involve more than just sandbags, and include the placement of rocks and groins to halt erosion, according to the mayor.

The erosion damage could serve as a warning to property owners who didn't sign easements for the 2002 renourishment project.

Hunsicker has already begun coordinating the next beach renourishment effort, but it's not expected to begin until 2009 or 2010 at the earliest, he said.