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Beach Commission to Consider Participation in Federal Master Plan

If the county decides Monday to opt into a federal nourishment plan for Bogue Banks beaches, future projects like the one pictured that took place in Atlantic Beach earlier this year would be under the auspices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (Carteret County Shore Protection Office photo)

Posted November 17, 2020

EMERALD ISLE — The Carteret County Beach Commission is poised to make a major decision Monday — whether to switch from local and state funding to federal funding and management for Bogue Banks beach nourishment projects.

The commission, which advises the office of Carteret County Shore Protection Manager Greg Rudolph, will meet at 2 p.m. in the Emerald Isle Commission meeting room. It will also be broadcast on Zoom.

To join the meeting on Zoom, go to: https://carteretcountync.zoom.us/j/84127532394?pwd=dW9SeXpwaXBISVR4Z1RGYmpzblJQUT09.

The meeting ID is 841 2753 2394 and the password is 21TMcP.

“For the past five meeting months we have made the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) Bogue Banks Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) Project a focal point of our regular Beach Commission meetings as predicated by an infusion of $44,500,000 in January of this year that was appropriated to construct the project: 65% federal ($28,925,000) and 35% non-federal ($15,575,000, furnished akin to a no interest loan),” Mr. Rudolph wrote in a memo to the commission.

“Our next step to codify our participation in the Project is to execute a Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) between the County and Corps, which is also required before construction can be initiated,” he continued.

The PPA, Mr. Rudolph said in the memo, also stipulates the terms and conditions of local cooperation, such as providing all the lands, easements and costs to obtain them, rights-of-way, relocations and parking and accesses that are necessary for the construction and maintenance of the project.

“The CSRM Project’s lifespan is 50 years and includes periodic maintenance (renourishment) at a 50% federal, 50% non-federal cost-share under an ideal federal appropriation schedule,” Mr. Rudolph added in the memo.

He also told the commission a decision is needed by around February.

“The Shore Protection Office is recommending the Commission decide whether or not to participate in the CSRM Project based on all the information and perspectives we have been discussing over the past several months,” Mr. Rudolph concluded.

The federally approved master plan would be in lieu of the recent formula of depending upon local, state and occasional federal emergency money to pay for nourishment.

Under the current system, the county has provided the lion’s share of beach nourishment money from its beach nourishment fund — derived from one-half of the proceeds from the county’s occupancy tax — augmented by state grants and money provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay the county and the Bogue Banks towns to replace sand lost in hurricanes.

The county, like the proposed federal plan, has used a “trigger” system — measuring erosion through engineers’ surveys — to determine when nourishment projects are needed in specific locations. The idea is to keep the beaches wide and enticing to tourists and to provide protective dunes for oceanfront residents and businesses that provide much of the county’s tax base.

The genesis of the federal plan goes back to 2001, when the county executed a feasibility agreement with the ACE to initiate the project.

Several members of the commission, including chairperson and Atlantic Beach Mayor Cooper, have expressed misgivings about the plan, which would eliminate the county’s use of FEMA money for sand replacement costs after hurricanes or other storms.

Since Hurricane Irene in 2004, FEMA has provided $87,862,725 for nourishment projects on Bogue Banks.

In addition, the ACE would do the plans and specifications for the projects.

So far, according to Mr. Rudolph, the county has spent $1,629,225 to study the feasibility of the plan and another $350,000 on engineering and design. The federal government has spent $2,943,503 on the feasibility study and $1.3 million on engineering and design. The state has kicked in $1,299,225 on the feasibility study and $350,000 for engineering and design.

That’s a total of more than $7.5 million. And of course, Mr. Rudolph said, if the county doesn’t move ahead with the plan, that $44.5 million allocation from the ACE would disappear.

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

Source: carolinacoastonline