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Deerfield hires top law firm to tackle SAND issues

Posted on 17 December 2015 by LeslieM

Seagull strolls Hillsboro Beach shoreline.

Seagull strolls Hillsboro Beach shoreline.

By Diane Emeott

The Town of Hillsboro Beach wants the City of Deerfield Beach to either remove all the “revetment groins” placed there some 50 years ago in the 1960s – or  — renourish their beach.

In fact, at the next Hillsboro commission meeting on Jan. 5, 2016, Hillsboro Beach is going to take a vote on authorizing a Chapter 164 action (from Florida Statutes), which Hillsboro Beach Town Manager Robert Kellogg, on Tuesday, called “an attempt to mediate a settlement to resolve issues with Deerfield Beach regarding the groin situation.”

Kellogg declined to comment on what the expected outcome of the meeting would be, other than to say, “I’m not sure what the [Town] commission will decide to do.” 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers defines “Groins” as the oldest and most common shore-connected beach stabilization structure. “Revetments” are described as a cover or facing of erosion-resistant material placed directly on an existing slope, embankment or dike to protect the area from waves and strong currents.

Other structural methods of coastal shore protection include: sea walls, bulkheads, dikes and levees, break waters, sills/perched beaches, jetties and piers.



Deerfield Beach has already partnered with Hillsboro Beach on several beach renourishment projects in 2015, 2011, 1998 and 1972, according to Deerfield Beach Director of Sustainable Management Chad Grecsek. (For general public access, the only way to get onto Hillsboro’s private beach is through Deerfield’s public beach.)

Deerfield Beach expended money for renourishment of its own beach in a project that was completed in March.  Deerfield contributed $700,000 toward completion of the project. The State of Florida contributed $700,000. And Hillsboro Beach paid another $700,000 for sand and hauling — plus $250,000 in engineering costs, to equal $950,000 of the total $2.1 million beach renourishment.

The City of Boca Raton did not participate in this project.

Hillsboro Beach also did a beach renourishment in Spring 2014, according to Kellogg.

Regarding reports of Hillsboro Beach stopping placement of sand at a certain point in 2015, Grecsek said, “I do believe the Town [of Hillsboro Beach] ceased placing sand on their beaches because they had accreted sand and additional sand would have them exceeding authorized permitted thresholds.”

According to a story that ran in the March 26, 2015 Observer newspaper, reporting on aMarch 20 Hillsboro Beach Special meeting on beach renourishment, Hillsboro Beach Vice Mayor Deb Tarrant said at the time, “We were handed a golden opportunity. Mother Nature did us a huge favor. She sent a large accretion of sand to the north end of town.”

With that large accretion, Tarrant noted, [Hillsboro] commission could save taxpayers money by being able to send less sand to that area of town.

On Dec. 11, when asked about the current sand situation along Hillsboro beach, Grecsek responded, “We are very much aware that the beach has sustained a significant amount of erosion due to sustained strong northeasterly winds over the last several weeks — which is typical for this time of year.”



In light of Hillsboro Beach preparing to do a Chapter 164 (predicate to a lawsuit), Deerfield Beach City Attorney Andy Maurodis recommended to Deerfield Beach city commission on Dec. 7 that the city  retain the legal services of the firm Conrad Scherer.

Maurodis added that a number of months ago, Deerfield had received notice from Hillsboro Beach “giving us 60 days notice before enforcement of a permanent condition.”

William Scherer was hired by Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign in July 2014 in his bid for re-election; was lead counsel, representing the banks defrauded by Scott Rothstein, and recovered much of the money lost by investors in the million-dollar scheme; and was a leader in the legal effort of George W. Bush to resolve the dispute [with Al Gore] over who won the election in Florida in 2000.

Costs associated with the firm are: $300 to $550 per hour for all the partners assisting and $850 per hour for Mr. Scherer’s fees.

Maurodis offered an alternative; “We [also] have excellent attorneys, who can do it for less.”

What is more important to us than our beach? Our beach is our most important asset!” said Mayor Jean Robb.

Deerfield Beach City Manager Burgess Hanson explained that the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) “is not even sure our groins are impacting this, or they would see a much larger area of erosion. [Hillsboro Beach] has changed their consultant twice. They want not only our city, but the City of Boca Raton [to be involved] as well!”

We do want to protect this. We need to take them on full force,” Hanson continued.

Maurodis added that The City of Deerfield Beach has attempted to negotiate with the Town of Hillsboro Beach – and still wants to do so.

This is a shot to the groin. They have a novice elected official over there,” said Vice Mayor Bill Ganz, saying he hoped this would be as painful as possible for them.

They overlook the fact that since they have a private beach, they are not entitled to the same dollars that we are,” Ganz added.

Deerfield Beach city commission unanimously approved the hire of Conrad Scherer firm – Maurodis’ add-on agenda item — following a separate discussion that same evening on increasing compensation for the City Manager.


View from Deerfield Beach.

View from Deerfield Beach.


The Hillsboro Beach portion of the nourishment was begun in March of this year and completed in April, according to Hillsboro Beach Vice Mayor Deb Tarrant on Dec. 15.

The permit included approximately an equal number of linear feet in both Hillsboro Beach and Deerfield Beach.

Tarrant said that for whatever reason, the engineering costs associated with both the Hillsboro Beach coastline as well as the Deerfield Beach coastline were added to the Hillsboro Beach tab.

These engineering fees include pre-construction costs as well as post-monitoring fees, as required by DEP.  

Every project has regulations and conditions that must be met as per the permits and guidelines issued by DEP.  

The reason “post-monitoring” studies are required is to be sure that as the “placed” sand migrates (which it always does), it does not damage the “hard bottom” (living reef) in the process.  

There are very stringent rules in place for protecting the hard bottom. Too much loose sand is a dangerous thing for a living reef.  If the reef gets buried by the sand that was added to the system unnaturally through a nourishment, the reef will die.  

The mitigation for correcting this kind of damage is extremely expensive and often ineffective.  

This is one reason a nourishment permit is done for a specific amount of sand within a specific template with limits set on both the north and south ends, she explained.

In January of this year, the sea water was lapping at the seawalls of condominiums in the north end of Hillsboro Beach, and residents were desperate for a nourishment.  

In late February, a major accretion event took place.  (When Mother Nature brings sand to a beach, it’s called accretion.  When man brings sand to a beach, it’s a nourishment.)  

The beach that was none-existent in January was partially restored by Mother Nature in February.  

As a result, the engineering consultants for Hillsboro Beach advised the Town that the original amount of sand scheduled for the nourishment within the permitted area would be too much and would very likely cause damage to the hard bottom as a result of ‘over filling’ the area.  

Therefore, the Town acted quickly to reduce the amount of sand being brought in,” Tarrant explained the rationale for Hillsboro stopping placement of the sand during renourishment.

Asked how much money the Town of Hillsboro Beach was able to save, Tarrant said


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