Residential structures on two beaches, including one on Topsail Island, will be protected with sandbags following approval from the Coastal Resources Commission at a special meeting Wednesday.


Residential structures on two beaches, including one on Topsail Island, will be protected with sandbags following approval from the Coastal Resources Commission at a special meeting Wednesday.



The CRC, which oversees development in the state’s 20 coastal counties, met via teleconference Wednesday afternoon to consider variance requests from homeowners in Oak Island and North Topsail Beach.



The town of North Topsail Beach asked the CRC for approval to install larger-than-permissible sandbags for a site just north of the Topsail Reef condominiums. The site includes 39 parcels of land with 20 duplex structures, containing a total of 40 residences. According to state documents, the north end of the town, just south of New River Inlet, has had a “persistent problem” with erosion since 1984, when the bar channel of the inlet shifted its alignment toward Onslow Beach. Since 1993, despite the use of sandbags in some places, “11 residential structures were either removed or lost to erosion.”



The CRC at its regular meeting in October approved a variance request that allowed the nearby Topsail Reef condominiums to install super-sized sandbags to halt erosion. The new request, for a similar structure, would tie into Topsail Reef’s sandbag structure and extend 1,400 feet parallel to the shoreline, with a 50-foot return wall extending landward.



The second request was from four owners of adjacent oceanfront homes on Oak Island after an existing sandbag structure failed to stop accelerated erosion in front of the houses. That structure was placed in May with permission from the CRC, but has since been “overtopped by ocean waves and some scouring ... has occurred, including scouring around the house foundation piles,” according to the variance request. The large sandbags would be used to “create a sandbag structure with a maximum base width of 30 feet and an elevation of 15.7 feet,” the documents said. 



The CRC approved both requests Wednesday, with a sunset clause stating that both towns must “commence construction” within six months of the date of approval. If either town fails to meet that deadline, its variance expires, according to CRC Chairman Frank Gorham.



 



Kate Elizabeth Queram is a reporter for the StarNews in Wilmington.