Sand for Vilano? 150 easements down, 4 to go, 1 ‘strong hold out’

With just a week to get 154 easements to bring an emergency sand replacement effort to fruition for a couple dozen homeowners in Vilano Beach, St. Johns County needs only four more people to sign off by 5 p.m. Monday. But one property owner is “flat out refusing.”

 

County spokesman Michael Ryan told The Record on Saturday there’s just one “strong holdout” who is “potentially jeopardizing the entire initiative.”

Getting sand behind a stretch of homes between just north of Third Street and San Pelayo Court has been no small task. Put into motion shortly after Hurricane Matthew, the proposed plan has already cleared an improbable amount of red tape.

Prior to the storm, the Florida Inland Navigation District and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had an existing maintenance project scheduled to dredge a portion of the Intracoastal Waterway and pipe the dredged sand to Anastasia State Park. More recently, the Corps received additional federal funds to dredge the St. Augustine Inlet and do the same.

Shortly after the storm, however, the two agencies and St. Johns County have worked with the St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District to modify the dredge contract and place all dredged sands behind homes to the north. The Corps and FIND covered the additional costs to provide the nearly 250,000 cubic yards of beach-quality sand at no expense to the county. (For a rundown of the project, see the March 6 edition of The Record or go to http://bit.ly/2nb08Rf.)

The bottom line is this change can only be accomplished if 100 percent of the oceanfront properties from Porpoise Point all the way up to the northern edge of the project provide the county with a temporary construction easement before the end of Monday.

Ryan said the county is looking for wiggle room on the deadline but also said it was unlikely that would buy any more than a day or two. He also said the County Commission could meet next week to consider “alternative solutions” in the event there’s only one or two holdouts, elaborating only that the board could consult the county attorney to review any legal recourse there might be.

County employees were out in the field Saturday trying to secure the final easements. As of about 3 p.m. Saturday, there were four remaining (down from six on Friday night). All property owners on the county’s list have been contacted.

 

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