Holden Beach town leaders are meeting Tuesday to vote on a proposal that would permanently revoke a terminal groin permit application.
“The total costs to the town, its citizens, and visitors of the proposed Lockwood Folly Inlet Terminal Groin greatly outweigh the potential benefits thereto, both financially and otherwise,” reads the proposal titled "withdrawal of all application for terminal groin."
The Board of Commissioners first decided to consider a terminal groin — a barrier of stone blocks extending into the ocean — in 2011 as part of the solution to severe beach erosion on the eastern side of the town’s shoreline.
The terminal groin will be discussed in a Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Holden Beach Town Hall.
Discussions earlier this month included a closed-door session with an environmental attorney who was hired to weigh in on the terminal groin issue.
“It’s been a long process,” said Peter Freer, a town commissioner. “My thought is we can’t afford the terminal groin. It’s too big a commitment for a hardened structure.”
Freer said he believes beach renourishment is, by itself, a safer bet for Holden Beach.
“It’s not worth the risk of investing in an experimental structure over the next 30 years,” said Freer.
Commissioner Joe Butler is also opposed to the terminal groin.
“There are a number of problems from a financial perspective as well as environmental impacts,” said Butler. “The other issue I currently have is the state of North Carolina. I appreciate the fact they wanted to issue the experimental permits, but I really didn’t see where the state, or county, or whoever is totally putting this on the backs of the residents of the islands.”
“Renourishment really seems to be working, and the residents are paying for that one.”
“It’s an experiment,” added another commissioner who did not want to be named. They also believe renourishment alone is a better option.
“In a storm, the groin will give no protection,” said the commissioner. “I’m not convinced that the terminal groin will do what it’s proposed to do.”
"My guess is [the commissioners] are going to vote to kill it," said Mayor J. Alan Holden about the terminal groin proposal. "I don’t necessarily agree with all the information that’s been put out, but I have to support the board in their decision.”
Holden said his job as mayor is to follow through with the will of the commissioners, and he does not vote unless there is a tie.
“There were several years where the previous administrations pursued the willingness to construct a terminal groin," said Holden. “Recently we’ve had an election, two years and three months ago, four months ago that installed people who have a different opinion.”
If the commissioners do not vote to withdraw the permit, "the process will continue to run, and the public will have the opportunity to continue to comment until May 4," said Holden.
Holden addressed his personal business operation as a realtor, property manager, and general contractor.
“I do not own any houses on the oceanfront at any spot on Holden Beach," said Holden.
Holden's business does manage several properties on the east end of the beach near the groin proposal, and he said his business earns a small percentage of the money from rentals, similar to other property managers on the Holden Beach coastline.
“I’m the property manager. I rent them for the owners," said Holden. His business promotes the property, advertises it for rent, collects the money for the homeowner, and disperses the money.
“But the homeowner is the one that makes all the decisions and gets the money."
Ana Zivanovic-Nenadovic with the NC Coastal Federation said the organization supports the withdrawal of a terminal groin permit application:
"We are pleased that the town has realized how bad an idea this terminal groin is. In general, terminal groins have many unintended consequences - they cause unintended downdrift erosion, harm natural habitat for birds and turtles and impede public access to the beach. They are also extremely expensive. In the case of Holden Beach, a detailed analysis of the Army Corps of Engineers' Final Environmental Impact Statement revealed a terminal groin might protect just a few more properties compared to those protected by the current nourishment method. We believe that the current nourishment system in the East End works well for the town. It is less costly and it does the job. Additionally, the 2017 Holden Beach Annual Beach Monitoring Report said the nourishment at the East End was successful, reiterating that current nourishment and erosion control methods work for the town."
We reached out to commissioner Pat Kwiatkowski and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Sullivan for comment and are waiting to hear back.
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