FIGURE EIGHT ISLAND, NC (WECT) - Homeowners at Figure Eight Island have a proposal to protect their homes but others say the move will prevent public access to the beach and damage nearby boating and fishing spots.
Homeowners want to build a terminal groin, which is basically a wall in the water, in Rich Inlet.
Local environmental leaders say the plan threatens the future of the waterway and public access to the area.
"It will stretch from 700 feet out into the ocean as proposed all the way to the sound," said Mike Giles, from the North Carolina Coastal Federation. "So, there will be a wall, a barrier, to prevent people from accessing what is rightfully theirs."
He said a terminal groin would eliminate the sandy shores that allow boaters to drop anchor here and threaten the habitat of the piping plover, an endangered bird. Plus, Giles says building just one terminal groin has far-reaching consequences.
"It's like a potato chip, you can't have just one," he said. "It will start a slippery slope of communities that want their terminal groins too. Not to knock another state, but we call it the "Jersey-fication" of North Carolina because if you look at an aerial view of Jersey, one terminal groin creates another terminal groin creates another one. It is a slippery slope and we feel like if we allow one, twenty years from now there will be dozens of them on our coast."
It's a bit of a race for communities that want to have terminal groins built.
Last year, state lawmakers repealed a twenty year ban on them and made room for just four to be built along the coast.
Now, in our area alone, Figure Eight Island, Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Beach and Bald Head Island are considering terminal groins.
Homeowners we talked to on Figure Eight indicated that their Homeowners Association instructed them not to talk to the media. However, some did say they support the proposal because they believe it will protect their homes.
Giles explained there is another option. His agency is recommending that the island consider having the inlet relocated. Giles said relocating nearby Mason's Inlet worked to prevent erosion at the north end of Wrightsville Beach.
Homeowners at Figure Eight plan to foot the costs of the plan. However, according to the proposal submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers, estimates from their planners show a terminal groin would cost a little more than $6 million dollars to install but relocation of the inlet would cost more than $20 million. Giles says the relocation figure is inflated.
The Army Corps of Engineers heard from both sides during a public hearing Thursday night at Ogden Elementary School at 6:30 p.m. Neighbors said the groin will help their homes, but environmental groups said it would hurt other beaches and limit public access.
The Army Corps of Engineers will take the public comment into account when deciding if this project should move forward.
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