Agreement Reached on Ditch Plain Rock Wall Violations

A stone sea wall at the Montauk Shores Condominium in Montauk will be reduced in size and planted with beach grass as part of an agreement between the property association and New York State. David E. Rattray

       A consent order signed earlier this month has closed a case brought by the state Department of Environmental Conservation against Montauk Shores Condominium, which owns the mobile-home complex at Ditch Plain in Montauk, and Keith Grimes Inc., which reconstructed a rock revetment on the oceanfront there last year.

       Although the order asserts that the condo association and its contractor believed the work complied with the permit received in March last year, it says they have acknowledged the violations and waived a hearing on the matter.

       The D.E.C. had levied a $40,000 fine, which Montauk Shores has paid, and the agency has agreed to suspend an additional $80,000 fine provided corrections are made in accordance with the consent order, which was signed by  Peter A. Scully, the agency’s regional director, James R. Graham, the president of Montauk Shores Condominium, and Susan Grimes, vice president of Keith Grimes Inc.

       The state permit authorized  approximately 5,000 cubic yards of “site-compatible sand and cobble and up to 2,500 cubic yards of 100 to 150-pound stone” to be brought in “to restore and stabilize approximately 885 linear feet of shoreland bluff.” It also authorized the “recovery and resetting” of stone that had been shifted by wave action and the reconstruction of a walkway and stairs. In its investigation, the D.E.C. found that the stones used  were larger than allowed and the pile of stones exceeded elevation limits.

       The work also drew the attention of East Hampton Town officials. In May of last year, the condominium association was charged with four town code violations: constructing an erosion control structure in a coastal zone where new ones are not permitted,  failure to obtain a building permit for “an approximately 900-foot by 80-foot rock and sand structure, with non-indigenous rocks and sand,” and for failing to obtain a natural resources special permit and a certificate of occupancy for that structure. The charges are pending in town court.

       The agreement with the D.E.C. calls for the stones to be moved, within 45 days, so that the revetment does not exceed an elevation of 14 feet at its eastern edge, as measured from and including the beach elevation, and drops to a 10-foot elevation at its western end.  Once that has been done, it says, the stones may be covered with sand, which is to be planted. The agreement also specifies that “no seaward expansion of the toe of stone armor is authorized.”

       A previous D.E.C. permit in effect from March 2003 through March 2012 had specified that Montauk Shores use smaller stones of 20 to 50 pounds in “a maximum three-foot-high pile,” along with “site-compatible sand and cobble.” At the condominium’s request, the state had, in 2006, already modified those terms to allow 100 to 150-pound stones “to repair and reform” the revetment and authorized the recovery and resetting of stones that may have shifted seaward.  An annual report to the D.E.C. about the condition of the site and any work undertaken was required.

       Jeremy Samuelson, the executive director of Concerned Citizens of Montauk, this week questioned the terms of the consent order. “It appears to allow a series of activities that weren’t authorized under the previous permit,” he said. Besides an increase in the height of the revetment, he noted that the agreement allows stones that are removed from the pile to be stockpiled upland “for future maintenance.”

       Both Mr. Samuelson and the town, in issuing violations to Montauk Shores, contend that the stones used are not indigenous and are incompatible with the Montauk shore. Mr. Samuelson contends that they should not be reused. However, the nature of the stones was not among the violations cited by the D.E.C.

       The agreement also requires Montauk Shores to have an engineering firm prepare and submit a storm-water management plan within six months, detailing a “ready and standby project to be implemented at such time as a hazard mitigation grant or other grant relief funding becomes available.”