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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Hope for North Shore property owners
Where's the beach?
Manatee County Ecosystems Manager Charlie Hunsicker met in August with beachfront property owners along Anna Maria's North Shore Drive to give them the bad news that there's nothing the county can do to halt beach erosion at their homes until the next beach renourishment project in 2009. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Property owners on North Shore Drive in Anna Maria already suffering severe beach erosion this summer (The Islander, Aug. 4 and Aug. 11) were hit hard by the backside of Hurricane Frances that brought waves crashing against their already damaged beaches and homes. The foundation of a home at 765 North Shore is now exposed from the wave action this past weekend.

Those owners were not involved in the 2002 beach renourishment project, although many of them wanted in the project, but were prevented by a few property owners who refused to sign easements.

The bad news is that city and county officials have told the homeowners there is little that can be done by their respective governments to provide temporary relief from the erosion.

Now, however, hope is on the way, at least some slim hope of saving their houses before the next beach renourishment project in about five years.

A Florida Department of Environmental Protection Coastal Projects Initiative grant program may offer some immediate relief.

Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn said she's working with Manatee County Grants Director Maggie Marr and Ecosystems Manager Charlie Hunsicker to prepare the necessary grant application for each affected property owner. The application deadline is Oct. 15.

The grants range from $15,000 to $50,000 and the funding comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Funds will be distributed beginning July 1, 2005.

"We've been doing all the preliminary work and we expect to get the grant to the DEP by Oct. 15," the mayor said.

Unfortunately, the grant program does not include "armoring," such as placing groins, concrete blocks, seawalls or other solid objects in the water as a means of halting beach erosion, said SueLynn.

"This is more for vegetation methods of halting erosion. People who want armoring have to apply directly to the DEP" and pay for those measures out of their pocket, if approved.

The Sandbar restaurant in Anna Maria received a DEP permit for armoring several years ago and placed rocks at strategic locations around the property to halt beach erosion until the 2002 project.