Pressed by environmental groups, the federal agency that oversaw a study of the proposed terminal groin on Figure Eight Island has decided to take another look at the structure after property owners submitted a new design and location that aren’t included in the original study.
The Army Corps of Engineers will update its 2012 draft Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, of the proposed groin at Figure Eight’s north end. The amended version will give the public the opportunity to review and comment on the new design and location that’s now preferred by the private island’s homeowners association’s board of directors.
“Instead of going out with a final (EIS) as we were planning on doing several months ago we just saw a need to go out with a supplement to the draft EIS,” Mickey Sugg, project manager with the Corps’ Wilmington office, said yesterday. “We felt it was beneficial to the public to give them another opportunity to review the project. Basically you can look at it as an updated draft.”
The decision to supplement the study comes more than a year after the Figure Eight Island Homeowners Association’s board agreed on a revised project alternative well after the public comment period ended for draft study.
The preferred design is a longer, bigger structure a little more than 400 feet further north from alternatives listed in the original study.
“They (the homeowners) came back with two additional structure options basically moving it 400 feet to the north,” Sugg said. “We looked at that not so much as a new alternative, but a minor variation of an existing alternative. It’s not something that was so brand new and it was not so totally different than what was looked at in the draft.”
The N.C. Coastal Federation and other environmental groups began pressing the Corps more than a year ago to restart the environmental review process to adequately assess changes that they considered to be significant.
The proposed rock groin would be 80 feet wide and extend 1,200 feet across the beach and into the ocean. About 300 feet would cross coastal wetlands.
The federation is working with other environmental groups on the “Save Rich Inlet” campaign, which aims to educate Figure Eight property owners and surrounding communities about the possible environmental implications a terminal groin would have on the inlet, the island and other shorelines.