Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dune Project Hearing to Focus on Funding

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dune Project Hearing to Focus on Funding

Article excerpt

Byline: Jake Martin

St. Johns County will have its first hearing Tuesday on an ordinance that would create two Municipal Service Taxing Units to fund the local share for a dune and berm replacement project for South Ponte Vedra and Vilano.

Funding from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for dune and berm replacement is available, but requires a local match.

State and local sources are expected to evenly split the cost of a roughly $20 million project. It is anticipated the project will provide an average of 10 cubic yards of sand per linear foot along the affected stretch of beach.

The proposed project area eligible for the funding extends from around 2345 S. Ponte Vedra Blvd. to 3244 Coastal Highway, which is about 9.5 miles of beach. An estimated 500,000 cubic yards of sand was lost along that stretch due to Matthew. Several homes have been deemed uninhabitable.

During public comment at the board's Nov. 7 meeting, many residents of South Ponte Vedra Beach and Vilano Beach who have come before the board over the past year reiterated their support for forging ahead. Oceanfront homeowners said they would not be the sole beneficiaries of the work, pointing to public access to the beaches as well as the protection of A1A.

Linda Chambless, with the South Ponte VedraAaAaAeA}Vilano Beach Preservati Association, said the dunes worked. She acknowledged they're gone, but said they spared homes, roads and infrastructure.

Oceanfront homeowner Robert Franskousky told The Record on Thursday the county is trying to thread a needle through a convoluted, complex set of rules on a short time line. He said the proposed project and how it would be funded is "totally ill conceived," and, therefore, could produce "unintended consequences."

Franskousky said the MSTUs would allow the county to use private money to get state money to put sand on beaches that will ultimately increase property values, and, with it, taxes, which will squeeze more revenue from oceanfront property owners.

He said there are "bands of impact" from putting sand back on the beaches that stretch beyond the immediate area, but any benefits to people beyond the barrier island property owners are being overlooked. …

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