02.09.2012

Groin Rush

Topics: Advocacy, Coastal management, Southeast Coast, Terminal groins

Similar in nature to the California Gold Rush, at least four beach communities along our southeast coast are gearing up for their own “gold rush” in terms of the race for the coveted terminal groin at their respective inlets. The ban on hardened structures along our public beaches was overturned by our state legislature last year in a law, which, as currently written, will allow for at least four of these ill-advised structures to be permitted in an attempt to combat the inevitable movement of inlets along our coast. If these structures work, do I have some nice swamp land up for sale for a housing development.

In January I attended the first “public” (you did get the notice, didn’t you?) state scoping meeting to begin the permitting process for the sought-after groin at Shallotte Inlet at Ocean Isle Beach. I was surprised by the lack of any type of procedure or policies to govern the process for permitting these hardened structures on our beaches and inlets.

Stranger still was the statement by Division of Coastal Management that this was shaping up to be a “first-come, first-served” process. In other words Figure Eight, Bald Head, Ocean Isle and Holden Beach communities have the upper hand in the race for this particular pot of gold, or so it seems.

An even more stunning revelation was the statement that the Division was just “figuring out” what, if any, policies or procedures will be established for this process just so long as it does not result in rule-making by the Coastal Resource Commission. Excuse me, I thought that was what the CRC was for: To look at the science and develop proper procedures and policies to adhere to our federally mandated Coastal Area Management Act and protect our coastal resources and public beaches for the common good. The discussion went on to include statements like “this is something we never have had to do and the Division does not have experience with this type of project”. Just to top that conversation was the statement that the Division has a “decent” vision of how this process will work.

What is really happening is the fact our state is putting the product before the process and hoping it will all work out. Sounds similar to the land our state borrowed $30 million and counting for a future “international port” down at Southport. Scary huh? 

--- Mike Giles, Coastal Advocate