Beachfront property owners and Army Corps remain at impasse over beach renourishment
Scores of beachfront property owners flooded into a town hall Friday on beach renourishment hosted by the Army Corps of Engineers in Indian Shores. But they didn't hear anything different from what they've been told for several years.
At issue is the Army Corps' recent decision to require every beachfront property owner to sign over an easement for access for any renourishment projects. The need has become critical for some beaches that were severely eroded by Hurricane Idalia.
But Col. James Booth, district commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, says they don't plan to waver from requiring permanent easements. He says since public tax dollars would be used for the projects, the public should have access to any renourished beach.
"The federal interest in protecting the infrastructure behind it, it does come with a requirement by law that says that I can't - as a federal agency - spend money to protect private property," Booth said. "And that's where we go to requiring these perpetual easements, so that we can come in and do the restoration on these projects after the storms have the impacts that we know they have on them."
And Booth said none of the projects proposed for Pinellas can go through without all the property owners agreeing to an easement. He said this is not impossible - it's been done recently for renourishment projects in Brevard and Flagler counties.