Renourishment plan raises new concern: traffic
A plan to haul sand by truck to rebuild the eroding beach and dune at the southern end of Litchfield Beach will be reviewed at a public hearing by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. The decision follows the receipt of over 100 comments from property owners opposing the plan.
The hearing will be held virtually, according to an agency spokeswoman. The date and time have not been set.
The owners of 33 lots at The Peninsula within the gated Inlet Point community are seeking state and federal permits to place up to 450,000 cubic yards of upland sand on 2,700 feet of beach in front of their property and along 900 feet of beach in front of the Inlet Point condominiums. The area in front of Inlet Point South was excluded because owners there raised objections to an early plan to renourish the beach with sand dredged offshore.
The dredging proposal drew objections from Inlet Point property owners because of the cost, estimated at $12 million for 700,000 cubic yards of sand.
Trucking is estimated to cost $3.25 million for up to 200,000 cubic yards that the Peninsula POA plans to place over the winter of 2020-21. That will require up to 150 daily truck trips for three months. A second round of renourishment the following winter would bring in up to 150,000 cubic yards of sand.
The truck traffic raised concerns among property owners in Litchfield Beach and Inlet Point about safety, noise and damage to the roads and the bridge on Litchfield Drive. They also fear that the sand placed on the south end beach will wash into the creek and Midway Inlet.
“Although I am not against beach renourishment per se, the proposed trucking campaign is a disaster in the making,” Cindy Kerr, president of the Litchfield Beaches Property Owners Association, said in a letter to the agency. “The fact that 33 property owners are proposing to subject 200 more South Litchfield owners to the absurdity of the four month trucking campaigns is a real head scratcher.”
Mike and Kate Goodall, who live in the last house before the Inlet Point gate, told the agency that since the truck will be making round trips “that is 200-300 truck trips per day. In any given day, that comes to a dump truck driving down Norris Drive every 1.5-2 minutes for 8 hours straight for approximately 75 days.”
Odile Postic, a Litchfield Beach resident for over 40 years, said “the huge volume of truck traffic over such a prolonged period of time will severely impact our neighborhood.”
“Already, there has been an area of the Litchfield Drive causeway that caved in last year,” Jay Preslar, a resident for over 30 years, told the agency. “The causeway is not designed to handle these large loads over such a long period of time.”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Barbara Neely, a Litchfield Beach resident, said. She told the agency that the traffic will impact vacation rentals as well as safety. “We all take our chances when we buy a house in a hurricane prone area. Just because their sand is washing away, do not make everybody else suffer,” she said.
Many people pointed out that the Peninsula lots are in a federal Coastal Barrier Resources Act zone, where regulations discourage development.
“Many people knew that one day before long the ocean and creeks would eat away at the sand upon which the huge houses were built. Yet they were built on with full knowledge that this day would come,” said Sonny Graves, who owns a condo at Inlet Point and who has been coming to the area since the 1950s.
There was a small dune scraped up in front of the Peninsula homes before Hurricane Isaias passed through earlier this month. It was washed away and sand filled the street.
Opponents of the renourishment plan said the sand should be dredged from Clubhouse Creek and Midway Inlet rather than hauled from an upland site. Some said that the Peninsula’s past sand scraping ended up putting more fill in the creek when it was washed away by storms.
Other comments to DHEC suggested the sand be trucked to Georgetown and then brought by barge to the beach to eliminate the impact on the roads.
No comments were received in favor of the project.