Figure Eight homeowners reject terminal groin

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Footprint of proposed terminal groin on Figure Eight Island (Photo: Army Corp of Engineers)

CHAPEL HILL, NC (WWAY) – No terminal groin for Figure Eight Island.

According to a news release from the Southern Environmental Law Center, The Figure Eight Island Homeowners Association denied a proposal to build a terminal groin at the north end of the island.

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The proposed project would have included a $7.5 million groin made of sheet metal and large boulders and would have required regular beach nourishment.

The Homeowners Association Board has been pursuing the project for more than five years. In 2014, members of the HOA said about 15 homes were facing beach erosion.

Conservation groups have argued for years that the outstanding wildlife habitat and recreational beach at Rich Inlet is far too valuable to destroy with the proposed groin and that much less destructive, and cheaper, alternatives are available.

“The homeowners have made a decision that is not only better for the environment, it’s better for their pocketbooks,” said Geoff Gisler, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Rich Inlet is one of the most stable inlets in North Carolina and for most of its known history has contributed to a growing beach on Figure Eight Island. Following this vote, the Homeowners Association should pursue less expensive alternatives that address the short-term, infrequent periods of erosion the island experiences by working with nature rather than against it.”

The Southern Environmental Law Center says the proposed groin would have eventually eliminated nearly a mile of recreational beach and wildlife habitat north of its proposed location.

“With this decision by the property owners at Figure 8, this natural inlet system, which belongs to all North Carolinians will hopefully be preserved and remain a special place for future generations to experience,” said Mike Giles, coastal advocate for the North Carolina Coastal Federation.

The Homeowners Association currently has an application for the proposed groin pending with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.