Figure Eight Island homeowners rejected a proposal for a terminal groin on Thursday. A majority of voters did not respond or voted “no” on the proposed project in a special assessment mailed to property owners in October from the Figure Eight Island Homeowners’ Association.

“With this decision by the property owners at Figure 8, this natural inlet system, which belongs to all North Carolinians, will hopefully be preserved and remain a special place for future generations to experience,” said Mike Giles, coastal advocate for the North Carolina Coastal Federation. “With other communities considering terminal groins at Holden Beach, Ocean Isle and North Topsail they need to scrutinize the costs of these engineered structures versus the benefits.”

The federation has maintained its opposition to the project since 2011. The proposed terminal groin was supposed to be built on the north end of the island near Rich Inlet, where sand has actually been accreting in recent years. In an active campaign, staff have educated Figure Eight Island residents on the harm a terminal groin would cause to habitat and recreational access.

Figure Eight Island homeowners had until 5 p.m. on Nov. 15 to respond “yes” or “no” to a ballot referendum on the proposed terminal groin. The project would have cost an initial $7.3 million for construction, and taxpayers would have paid anywhere from $23.5 million to upwards of $50 million over a 30-year period for maintenance and beach fill.

According to an email from the Figure Eight Island HOA, there were about 184 votes against the project and 105 non-responses, which carried the same effect as a “no” vote. About 256 voters supported the proposed terminal groin, which fell short of the needed majority of 282 votes for the project to move forward.

Coastal Review Online reported that the Army Corps of Engineers is not sure if it will continue with the environmental review of the project that is still ongoing.

Rich Inlet is one of the last naturally-functioning inlets in North Carolina. The Figure Eight Island homeowners’ rejection of the proposal is a win for recreational access and habitat in the area and the result of a hard-fought campaign by the federation and partners.