To the Editor:
The battle Plum Island residents are facing to save their homes from falling into the ocean is due to government agency regulatory layering.
Plum Island residents want permission to save their homes at their own expense, with no taxpayer funds required. Coastal Zone Management (CZM) is the organization that creates the policies that regulate the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
DEP is the organization that issues permits. But the DEP cannot issue permits that are in violation of CZM’s policies. So, DEP could not issue a permit to do beach scraping because it is against CZM’s policy.
CZM, the head of the dragon, has to change its policies about beach scraping in order for DEP to be able to issue a permit. This is how government agencies stall, hinder, and prevent residents from saving their homes. There is no scientific proof that beach scraping harms anything if done properly; actually it can help the dune restoration process.
Mother Nature, rising sea level, or global warming is not causing primary dune erosion on Plum Island. Human interference of the natural flow of downdrift sand from north to south is being interrupted by a manmade structure (the south jetties) that is now in disrepair.
To repair the damage to the coast caused by human interference, we need manmade solutions for the long-term and the short term. The Army Corps’ long-term solutions of repairing and reconfiguring the south jetty and depositing dredged sand on Plum Island will significantly improve the health of our coast, however, it will never cure it. That is why we need to form a permanent short-term solution plan that will allow restoration of the primary dune before an emergency situation occurs.
This plan must have the ability to be activated with in 24 hours of acute primary dune erosion. Beach scraping should be an important part of the Emergency Dune Restoration Plan.
It is my belief that CZM and DEP thrive on the publicity of a home dropping into the ocean because it bolsters their theory that global warming and sea level rise are to blame for the beach homes demise. The sound-byte on the news bolsters the environmental lobby when it comes to funding the salaries and further research for these government agencies.
I believe the real reason these homes are falling into the sea is because the Army Corps of Engineers did not maintain the Merrimack River jetties. But those complicated details will be lost when TV news crews show up to do a 30-second sound-byte. CZM and DEP will capitalize on the drama of a home falling into the sea to increase their budget. It’s all about the money and job security!
Oh, and two more points ... do you remember what happened in New Orleans, when Katrina hit the coast and the levies broke? A total of 1,833 people died because of the inability of government agencies and politicians to function during an emergency. And the Army Corps of Engineers was held responsible for flood damage caused by the lack of maintenance to the levy system.
This is almost identical to the Plum Island situation. Even though citizens are not supposed to be able to sue the government, I believe the precedence has been set in New Orleans that the Army Corps is responsible and the residents should be able to sue the government for loss of property.
Cities and towns should have the authority to implement home rule in order to make common sense decisions and be free from government red tape to allow property owners to protect their homes and lives.
All Massachusetts communities should assist homeowners in defending their constitutional right to protect their lives, homes and property.