Want Revetment Restart

Zweig races plovers to fill Georgica ‘hole’ by April
Contractors began work to construct a rock revetment in front of Mollie Zweig's house in November, but a temporary restraining order stopped the project two days later. Morgan McGivern

       Three and a half months after construction of a rock revetment in front of 11 West End Road in East Hampton was commenced and quickly halted, an application for the same project was brought to the East Hampton Town Trustees, who say they have jurisdiction over the project area.

       Aram Terchunian, a coastal geologist with the First Coastal Corporation, the environmental consulting and marine construction company that would perform the work, filed an application with the trustees on Monday. At a trustee meeting on Tuesday night, Mr. Terchunian and Stephen Angel, an attorney representing the applicant, Mollie Zweig, outlined the project.

       Over the strenuous objection of the trustees, Ms. Zweig had obtained a permit for the work from the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals in October. With that permit and one from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in hand, her contractors quickly went to work on the revetment, but, on Nov. 7, the trustees filed a request for judicial intervention against Ms. Zweig, the village, its zoning board, and its Department of Code Enforcement, as well as East Hampton Town and the town zoning board, in an effort to nullify the village Z.B.A.’s determination.

       Construction began on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, when courts were closed. Two days later, the trustees, represented by their special counsel, David Eagan, obtained a temporary restraining order. The project has remained in limbo since then.

       “I understand that this is an important issue to everyone in the room,” Mr. Terchunian told the trustees Tuesday. “We have spent a long time thinking about the different options on this site. . . . What we have presented to the D.E.C., the village, and now you is, in our judgment, the best option for this site.” He called the proposed revetment “the option which will have the least environmental impact and will preserve to the extent practical, and to a greater extent, I think, than at many other sites . . . the beach and dune system.”

       From West End Road to Main Beach, all but “two and a half” properties are already protected by “some type of structure,” Mr. Terchunian said. “We’re clearly not looking at a shoreline here that is devoid of structures. In fact, it is significantly dominated by structures.”

       The proposed project, which would cost $500,000, would include placement of a rock structure in the core of the dune, construction of a sand dune on top of it, and installation of snow fencing. The structure, which he called “consistent and complementary to what exists on the adjacent properties,” would, he explained, “allow the natural system to repair itself, while holding in reserve, in the core of the dune, a flood-control device in the form of a rock wall that, during a storm surge, will enable the dune to resist the flood.”

       On the recommendation of the D.E.C., Mr. Terchunian said, the proposed structure would be 40 feet landward of the revetment in front of 7 West End Road. Earlier this month, the trustees approved plans by the owner of that property, Anthony Manheim, to repair the revetment, which was constructed in 1978 and had “lagged” after being exposed by storms in 2011 and 2012.

       Ms. Zweig, Mr. Terchunian said, “was a little distressed” by the proposed placement, which would be landward of all other revetments on the shoreline. But, he said, “We’re not here to fight against the ocean. . . . This is not a groin-type structure where you’re sticking it out in the ocean attempting to capture sand. It is in fact the reverse of that. It is parallel to the shoreline and moved as far back as possible into the dune.”

       The trustees, Mr. Terchunian said, should recognize that “what we are doing here is attempting to retreat in an orderly fashion.” He said that in placing the revetment as far landward as practical, “at what is the storm scarp right now,” and then reconstructing the dune on top of it, the beach and dune will naturally mend themselves. In the meantime, the revetment would provide protection “in the vulnerable state that the property is in now.”

       Stephanie Forsberg, a trustee, thanked Mr. Terchunian for “acknowledging our jurisdiction by submitting this application and filing it with the East Hampton Town Trustees.”

       Mr. Eagan told Mr. Angel that the trustees are concerned about “the hole that’s been dug and left on a public beach,” referring to the initial construction phase in November, and asked that it be addressed “from a public safety standpoint.” Asked if he would like the trustees to consider only the sand-replenishment portion of the application in the short term, Mr. Angel said no.

       Ms. Zweig seeks a swift determination by the trustees given the upcoming piping plover nesting season. “From what we understand, whether you have a permit from the Almighty, from the D.E.C., from you, or from anybody, the piping plover take over on April 1 to Sept. 1,” Mr. Angel said. “Realistically, if the project is not done in the next four weeks, it’s not going to happen.” The application, he said, would not be amended. “That’s the application we have approval on, that’s the application we would like you to — hopefully — promptly make a determination on.”

       Diane McNally, the trustees’ clerk, said yesterday that the trustees would consider the application with an open mind. Mr. Terchunian “made some good points, recognizing that the shoreline has already been hardened,” she said. “On the other hand, no alternative has been attempted. . . . We’ll weigh both sides.”