Friday, February 20, 2009

The North End

That's a section of what I call the "North End," about two-thirds of the way between the Shores development and the end of Park Road 100. This piece of land is about exactly 6.45 miles long. The Gulf is on the right, with a white beach and then a skinny black line that is the park highway. To the left of the road you'll see some blobs that indicate large vegetated dunes, some mudflats, and weird stuff due to the resolution of the picture.

Except for a few high dunes on the beach side, the beach is about 600 feet wide between the roadway and the dark sand (see the little red dots?). The brilliant white color indicates a lack of vegetation except in small places, and most of those dunes are small coppice dunes or larger, shifting "air dunes."

I didn't get the best shot here but see that "fan" effect on the bayside at the very top of the picture? That's an indicator of a very large and powerful washover zone. So there are a lot of dangers and risks in building up in this area. Unfortunately, a complete Google Earth satellite view of the entire length of the island in dispute looks like spaghetti so short sections such as this picture are the only way to gain an appreciation for the area.

Let's talk set-backs from the wet sand now, a nice surrogate for the high water mark. We now have 600 feet to play with, and the vegetation line is nowhere near obvious. I'm not a coastal expert by trade but you can drive for quite a while and not see any continuous vegetation line anywhere. That's important because the area between the vegetation line and the waterline is considered a public beach.

Then you has a "building line" which is usually a setback from the waterline of maybe 200 feet to 400 feet depending on the area (the Shores went with 400 I think). That's interesting, since the erosion rate in this part of the island is about 10 feet per year! Does that mean in 20 years there won't be anymore public beach? Gee, I hope to be alive to see that one.

Perhaps I'm being Captain Obvious here but it is clear to me we have major problems just figuring out how to plan that part of the island. I would prefer if nothing was developed up there but that just isn't going to happen. What would you do?

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