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As a homeowner at Ocean Isle Beach, my family enjoys one of the best family beaches anywhere.
Many would say all of our lovely homes never should have been built on North Carolina beaches and oceanfront. That may be true, but the homes and businesses were built by local builders with legal permits.
The presence of these homes and businesses help the local economies, and the public enjoys the beaches of all of the towns along our coast. They provide jobs and comfortable settings for annual visits by many in our state and other tourists.
I rent my beach house, and I have visitors from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Washington, West Virginia and a few foreign countries.
We and our visitors use the services of restaurants, hardware stores, realty companies, maid services, retail stores, movie theaters, fishing guides, building and maintenance personnel, landscape services, public utilities, golf courses and many others. We pay huge property taxes that help support local schools and towns.
For years, the east end of Ocean Isle Beach has been threatened with huge erosion problems. Again, we are experiencing beach erosion on the west end of Ocean Isle Beach.
Within a few weeks in October 2007, high tides caused accelerated erosion and took away hundreds of feet of beach on two sides of our home. After the ocean came within 15-feet of our house, we applied for and eventually were granted emergency permits for sandbags.
The sandbags were installed in November and are now protecting our house and the road and the west end of Ocean Isle Beach.
When the sandbag permits were issued by CAMA, we were told they were temporary, would have to be removed in two years and we should be thinking about losing our home or moving it. No insurance money covers beach erosion and the problems it causes. We are devastated.
Why can’t our state allow homeowners to install seawalls? Installed near the house, seawalls would work, look better and cost less than sandbags.
Private businesses and homeowners willing to pay with private money should be allowed to save their properties. The sand and beach may return, but it will take longer than two years.
Also, our state has decided that beach “renourishment” is the way to deal with public beach erosion. Town, state and federal money is spent by the millions every year to “renourish” beaches in North Carolina. Very often, the sand washes away within a few months and causes worse erosion in adjacent areas.
A cheaper and better solution is used by other states. Groins, levies, sea walls and jetties hold the drifting sand in place and keep inlets open.
In some cases, beach “renourishment” is used in conjunction with these structures, and the sand stays on the beach longer. North Carolina and Washington State are the only states with coastlines that now ban hardened structures to help save coastlines and buildings on the oceanfront.
For some reason, hardened structures are allowed on the marsh side of islands, including rock jetties and cement canals. North Carolina even allows jetties oceanfront for state parks and certain inlets.
The inlets on the east and west ends of Ocean Isle Beach would be well served by a groin or jetty. Sandbags, beach “renourishment,” seawalls, jetties and groins have places in good management of coastal areas.
North Carolina politicians need to get in the game. Municipalities protecting beaches and private property owners need choices that work well to save oceanfront properties.
We need the help of North Carolina legislators. In the next legislative session, representatives will be asked to revoke a 1990s ruling that banned hardened structures on the North Carolina oceanfront.
I am asking you lobby politicians to help pass legislation this spring that will allow oceanfront property owners good hardened-structure choices to save their legally built homes and businesses.