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Planning commission backs Woodring living shoreline

By Staff | Mar 30, 2018

TIFFANY REPECKI The Sanibel Planning Commission listen to a presentation at its March 27 meeting on a proposed project along a section of Woodring Road that would consist of installing a living shoreline.

The Sanibel Planning Commission recently voted to approve the installation of a living shoreline along a section of Woodring Road adjacent to the San Carlos Bay to serve as an erosion control structure.

At its March 27 meeting, the commissioners voted 7-0 to accept the proposed project, including 26 conditions recommended by the Sanibel Planning Department. The applications for a Conditional Use Permit and Development Permit were submitted by Hans Wilson & Associates on behalf of the city.

The project area, which is located west of Dixie Beach Boulevard and situated within the Mangrove Forest zone, is owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, according to the documents.

The project will entail rebuilding about 170 feet of existing riprap and stabilizing about 710 feet of existing vegetated shoreline in the Woodring right-of-way with the installation of the living shoreline, which will consist of riprap, concrete pipes and “reefballs” planted with native shoreline vegetation.

Hans Wilson, the engineer for the proposed project, along with Natural Resources Director James Evans and city planner Josh Ooyman, held a presentation for the commission before the vote.

PHOTO PROVIDED Photo of the erosion taking place along a section of Woodring Road by the San Carlos Bay.

“This area is subject to ongoing and persistent erosion,” Evans said.

He noted that the city has had to restore the road numerous times after big storms.

“We’re looking at the option of installing a living shoreline along this area,” Evans said.

The city already installed a living shoreline at the west end of Bailey’s Beach Park.

“The shoreline is stable,” he said. “We’re not losing ground there.”

PHOTO PROVIDED Photo of the erosion taking place along a section of Woodring Road by the San Carlos Bay.

One at Lighthouse Beach Park has stabilized that shoreline, with vegetation taking hold.

“We’re pretty successful in that area,” Evans said, adding that the city has not had to restore or refill that area since installing the living shoreline.

Wilson reported that 17 nearby homes are affected by the situation.

“It’s this kind of insidious slow – you don’t really notice until the vegetation starts to die away,” he said, adding that fill used to temporary fix the problem is only washed into the water with storms.

Evans reiterated that the goal is to stabilize the shoreline in the area long-term.

PHOTO PROVIDED Concrete container pipes will be filled with soil to sustain the planting of new mangroves as one method of implementing the proposed living shoreline.

“We’re trying to stabilize the road and prevent further erosion,” he said.

According to Wilson, the team will use concrete container pipes – filled with soil to sustain the planting of new mangroves inside – for areas that are sparsely vegetated. For areas where mangroves exist but are struggling against erosion, riprap boulders will be placed at the toe of the vegetation.

Reefballs mimic oyster beds and have been proven successful in doing so in other projects.

“The focus is to establish vegetation – not structure,” Evans said.

He reported to the commission that $200,000 has been budgeted for the project. Because the targeted area does not contain public access, the city was unable to secure grant funding to reduce the costs.

“One hundred percent of it’s coming from the city,” Evans said.

Ooyman noted that the project conforms to city code and recommended approval.

Asked about any downsides of the proposal, Hans pointed out traffic.

“We’re going to have some temporal traffic issues,” he said.

Hans estimated that the project will take 30 to 45 days.

Prior to the vote, some on the commission offered their thoughts.

“It’s obvious the positive aspects of this project,” Commissioner Richard Johnson said. “It’s very clear the benefits and what we need to do here.”

Commissioner and Chair Philip Marks agreed that something had to be done.

“You’re not sure how much stability there is on that outer portion of the road,” he said of traveling along the section of Woodring by vehicle.

Marks added that the prior installed projects seem to be workings.

“We already have two of these existing shorelines,” he said.

Evans reported that staff would like to have the project out to bid by late April.

“We’d like to have this done in early summer to avoid any tropical storm events,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be a good pilot project for future projects,” Evans added.


– The commission welcomed its newest sitting member, Commissioner Matthew Kirchner.

– Roy Gibson, acting director for the Sanibel Planning Department, reported that the department is looking into coming up with a recommended set of standards or limitations in terms of redevelopment for non-conforming structures located outside of the Resort Housing District for the commissioners.

Sanibel City Councilwoman Holly Smith, who was in attendance, spoke on the topic.

“We have properties that are is disarray and have no way of repairing themselves,” she said, adding that a similar method was used to help non-conforming structures within the district facing the same issue.

Commissioner Chuck Ketteman suggested getting input from property owners and the public.

“Think about how we’ll get that feedback appropriately,” he said.

The next meeting of the Sanibel Planning Commission is April 10 at 9 a.m.