South Ponte Vedra Beach

and Vilano Beach

South Ponte Vedra-Vilano Beach
Preservation Association, Inc.

Plan Overview - July 2008

An overview of the plan of action for the South Ponte Vedra-Vilano Beach Preservation Association, Inc.

In the past few months, our beach has encountered significant erosion, far beyond the normal ebb and flow that we typically experience during the various seasons. At this point, no one really knows the cause of the problem, or what will eventually happen. The Army Corps of Engineers has been requested to perform a study, but no funding is currently available. What we do know is that three homes in South Ponte Vedra have been deemed to be in a critically dangerous situation by the county, and if the erosion continues, many more will follow. The emergency declaration by the county allowed those three homes to be protected by the installation of “temporary rigid coastal armoring”, as deemed appropriate by the DEP. These structures are temporary only, and must be removed within 60 days of their installation unless a successful application is made to the DEP to leave the structure in place permanently.

As for the rest of us, there are some pretty significant restrictions in determining which structures are even eligible for the temporary armoring. For example, only those properties with homes built before 1985 qualify for the armoring, and only if the house is structurally threatened. Businesses and homes constructed under a permit issued by DEP after March 17, 1985 are not eligible, and neither are the vacant lots.

Even if rigid armoring were available to all of us, it is far from the ideal situation. It is very unfriendly to all our inhabitants, both turtles and humans. It encourages further erosion, especially for those who are unable to armor their beaches, and is terribly unattractive. Our beaches are a tremendous source of pride and enjoyment for all of us in South Ponte Vedra and Vilano Beach.

So, what good options are available? Individually there are none. Collectively there is only one. We must get organized and push for a beach restoration, the pumping of sand onto the beach from an offshore site. This is a proven, DEP acceptable, environmentally friendly method of preserving the dunes, the turtle habitat, and the quality of life for all of us that love the beach. What must be done is clear. The challenge is how do we pay for it. It is going to be painfully expensive and time consuming, and we can’t look exclusively to the government for a solution. But the government can be a big help.

Fortunately, beach restoration qualifies for financing under a commonly used county program called a Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU).The MSBU is a vehicle whereby the cost of a project, such as a neighborhood sewer, road or beach restoration can be financed over a period of years using low-interest, tax-exempt county bonds. The bonds are then repaid by those who benefited from the project, via an assessment included on their annual property tax bill.

It is also possible for beach restorations to qualify for state matching funds. The legislature recognizes the positive impact of Florida’s beaches on the tax base and the economy, and this year approved $65 million for beach restoration, nourishment and monitoring. Since a comprehensive restoration will also include the many public access areas along our beaches, the state may pay up to 50% of the costs of an approved restoration program. Additional funds may become available from other sources, all of which can and will be explored.

If we are successful in reaching our goals, we should be able to restore and protect our beaches for an annual amount comparable to or less than the amount we currently pay for insurance for our homes. Currently we have no protection for our beach, which is the most important part of why we live where we do.

There’s still a lot to learn about the needs of the beach, the costs, and the financing plan. That’s why we have formed SPV-Vilano Beach Preservation Association, Inc., a non-profit organization established for the specific purpose of restoring, protecting and preserving the dune system, habitat and beaches of South Ponte Vedra and Vilano Beach.

Over the next few weeks and months, we will be contacting all property owners in the affected areas to provide information about the process, and to determine the level of interest in a beach restoration project. We also hope to be a resource for accurate and timely information in the event additional properties require emergency temporary rigid armoring.

If you are interested in learning more about our association, upcoming information meetings, or our project, please visit our website at www.SPV-Vilano.com or contact Tom Turnage via email at TTurnage@SPV-Vilano.com. We will need all of your help.