New beach re-nourishment in Pinellas may hinge on signed easements

Pinellas County

REDINGTON SHORES, Fla. (WFLA) – They’re drawing a “line in the sand.”

Some property owners in Pinellas County don’t like a new rule when it comes to beach re-nourishment.

They’re worried, they are giving up part of their property, forever.

Storms, tides, and currents are all the enemy to pristine, wide-open beaches. So every few years, the Army Corp of Engineers pumps in new sand, called re-nourishment.

With some heated debate in Redington Shores, a Pinellas County Coastal Management expert explained, if tax dollars are spent to improve beaches, then the public is entitled to use the area while the corps is requiring signed easements.

“People are wondering why they have to give easements now when they haven’t in the past.  But the Corp’s policy is that wherever they are going to place sand, they need have perpetual public access easements,” said Dr. John Bishop.

That’s fine with many homeowners. “We have some residents, I know of some neighbors of mine, they say, hey, if you’re willing to put sand on my beach for free, have at it,” said St. Pete Beach Mayor, Mayor Al Johnson.

But some don’t like the language of the easement. Especially the part that says “in perpetuity.”

“In 7 years, when there’s new people in the county commission, they can say, oh what we really meant to say was, we need a Ritz Carlton right in front of Casey’s house,” said beach resident, Casey Wojcik.

The next beach re-nourishment project likely won’t happen until 2023. But the corp wants 461 easement agreements signed soon.

Without them, the project could be delayed or canceled.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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