MURDOCK — Charlotte County commissioners offered their help Tuesday to people with Gulf-front Manasota Key properties hit hard with erosion.
Without debate, commissioners voted unanimously to declare an emergency order for property owners, specifically those along the 2700 block of North Beach Road.
“(Those properties) are imminently vulnerable to damage or collapse from ongoing surf action and coastal storm activity,” the emergency ordinance states. “And some structures (such as Seacrest Condominiums at 2710 N. Beach Road) are extremely vulnerable and have no protective measures in places.”
The order allows property owners — those whose homes and other structures are threatened to be undermined by erosion — to work with county officials on the armoring of their properties with sand bags and other protections.
County officials notified the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that an emergency order was being issued. The property owners, however, will be expected to apply for state permitting if they want to keep sand bags and other protections in place.
“They have the 90 days to get (state) approvals or remove it,” said Shaun Cullinan, Charlotte planning and zoning official.
Winter residents Laura and Richard Klinski have been staying on Manasota Key since 1979. Three or more years ago, Laura remembers when she could walk the beach from the 2700 block north to Blind Pass Beach on the Sarasota County side of Manasota Key. Not now.
“It used to take years for us to see the changes,” Laura said. “But now, it’s happening daily.”
In the last several weeks, the couple witnessed some sand accumulate along the Gulf shoreline, and then even more erosion stripping the beach of its sand.
“Two weeks ago, it took two or three more feet,” Richard said. “A week later, three or four feet came in, the next day another foot of sand came up, but then a few days ago, it went down five or six feet. Now, it may be up by three feet.”
Fresh sand coming
The Englewood Beach Waterfest and Offshore Power Association are all clear for powerboat racing Nov. 23-24 off Manasota Key at Englewood Beach.
The boat racing and other Waterfest festivities will not compete with Charlotte County’s plans to create a 50-foot-wide, dry sand beach along Manasota Key’s Gulf shoreline in November.
“(County staff) will delay the start of the project until after the races,” Commissioner Bill Truex said Tuesday. “It was confirmed Monday by staff. I had already talked to staff to make sure that there was no conflict.”
Waterfest is more than a boat race to the county, Truex said, citing how last year’s Waterfest generated a $6-million economic impact for local businesses in a slower, fall “shoulder season.”
The county’s goal for the $28 million planned shoreline restoration calls for sand to be deposited north of the Stump Pass State Park to Sarasota County’s Blind Pass Beach. The project does face a drop-dead deadline of May 1 on Manasota Key, the start of the sea turtle nesting season.
“To stop and start the dredge (for Waterfest) could cost $300,000, and we don’t want to add those costs by any stretch of the imagination,” Truex said.
He’s confident the project can be completed before the May 1 deadline.