‘Muddy sand’ protest carries little weight with Satellite Beach council

Save the Mid-Reach supporters came away empty-handed on March 7 when they took their “muddy sand” protest to the Satellite Beach City Council, looking for the city to push to end the dumping of upland said on area beaches.

Activists say that silt-laden sand will ultimately bury a natural near-shore reef running from Patrick Air Force Base to Flug Avenue in Indialantic.

Undeterred, they vowed to come back before council March 21. But the debate goes on, perhaps soon to the county and state levels. Satellite Beach is spending $8,000 to test the sand to see if it meets criteria, with so far inconclusive results.

City Council members said nearly 20 years of debate brought about the project and it was concerns about the possible environment impacts that caused the Mid-Reach to be excluded from previous beach replenishment projects. In response to those concerns, the Mid-Reach project will be more narrow to the shore than other projects and will have artificial reefs installed for Green turtles.

The resolutions included: to independently test and monitor the quality of the sand; to “end the current the current policy of widening the beach and burying the reef; and to incorporate “more education and projection of the reef in city activities.’’

City Manager Courtney Barker said under current law, if property is in danger of falling into the ocean, the property owners have the right to put up seawalls which cause more damage to the surrounding beach. The city will be sued if the property owner is not allowed to armor his land against the surf. The only options for the city are to purchase the land, replenish the beach, or allow seawalls, she said.

“Until that law is changed, we’re stuck,’’ said Satellite Beach Mayor Frank Catino, noting the city had purchased 40 percent of its beaches and would support the purchase of “coastal retreat properties” to stop shoreline development.

Save the Mid-Reach organizer Matt Fleming notified the council in a later email that the group will be back with the resolutions on March 21 because he feels “they would add value to the city, protect our beach, and not constitute a significant cost to the city budget.”

“We are absolutely working towards having the county vote to reduce the volume and improve the quality of material that is planned for placement on our beach. If you’re wondering what people want, they are looking for the city to support that,’’ he said.

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