LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Posted on 04 May 2017 by LeslieM

RE: Hillsboro Beach suing Deerfield over sand issue

Dear Neighbors,

Today [April 24], the Town of Hillsboro Beach took formal legal action against the City of Deerfield Beach.

Standing in for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), as authorized under 120.69 Florida Statutes, the Town’s formal Petition charges Deerfield with ignoring the conditions set forth in the permits that allowed the City to build a series of sand-trapping groins/rock piles in the late 50s and early 60s. The groins run the entire length of Deerfield’s one-mile beach, with a structure placed approximately every 100 ft.

The permit condition with the greatest impact on Hillsboro Beach stipulates that downdrift damage (a well-known byproduct of groins) to adjacent properties is Deerfield’s responsibility to remedy. In short, Deerfield was given permission to build the groins only after agreeing that it is Deerfield’s responsibility to cover the cost of dealing with subsequent downdrift erosion.

Instead, while Deerfield has enjoyed a beautiful beach provided by the sand-trapping function of the groins, Hillsboro Beach taxpayers have paid to repair the damage caused by these structures. Today’s legal action is an effort to enforce the permit conditions and move the cost of the remediation where it legally belongs. Given that permit conditions do not have a statute of limitation, the conditions enumerated in Deerfield’s permits remain in effect as long as the structures remain in the water.

The Town initially reached out to Deerfield for relief on Oct. 27, 2015 at a joint meeting of 24 people, which included legal counsel, engineers and representatives from the municipalities, as well as from DEP. At that time, Deerfield’s City Manager stated that Deerfield had “no intention of spending a nickel” to help address the erosion in Hillsboro Beach. During the next 18 months, Deerfield’s combative, belligerent attitude has not shifted. At substantial expense to Deerfield taxpayers, the City immediately hired a well-known team of litigating attorneys who have repeatedly shown no interest in successful negotiations/mediation. As a result, the Town has been left with no alternative but to seek a remedy through the court system.

The rising cost of sand has made it unsustainable for Hillsboro Beach residents to continue to pay for Deerfield’s beautiful beach. Hillsboro Beach spent $17 million in 17 years on beach remediation. The last major nourishment done by the Town was in 2011 at a cost of $6.1 million, financed with a 10-year loan that retires in 2020. The sand from the 2011 nourishment was gone by 2014, leaving six years of payments for a beach no longer there. Since the cost of sand is rising exponentially as the resource becomes more and more scarce, the next major nourishment is estimated to cost as much as triple the 2011 expense.

Today’s action is the first step to force Deerfield to honor their legal commitment to be responsible for downdrift damage caused by its sand-trapping groins. [See more about Sand, Pg. 1]

Deb Tarrant

Mayor, Town of

Hillsboro Beach

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