NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 1, 2013

A civics lesson in good government

(Continued)

Meanwhile, at the south end of the (inhabited) beach, the jury is still out on the ability of government to handle conflict and controversy..

Erosion and storm devastation have taken six homes, and about 20 more are vulnerable, according to town officials in Newbury.

Oceanside residents took an enormous stretch in bringing in tons of rock and chiseled stone -- without permits -- to place in front of their homes.

Now they are asking members of the state Department of Environmental Protection for its blessing to "mine" (dig up) sand at low tide and move it in front of their houses to replenish the dunes.

In Massachusetts, oceanside homeowners own the land down to the low tide mark, so it can't be said they are transgressing upon state property, officials say.

Still, mining would appear to require DEP permission.

Late last week, state officials essentially asked oceanside homeowners to come up with definitive plans to explain and document their concept of mining.

From the office of Tarr: "It is recommended that the proponents of such proposals consult with qualified professionals to develop engineered plans as soon as possible. Please advise us when such plans are available."

So it appears the DEP is willing to examine the suggestion of mining. But they need a little science to take is seriously.

(An aside: One of the proponents of mining said the concept was to dig a hole at low tide "big enough to bury a battleship." It was an apt description, but perhaps not an appealing one for the environmental crowd.)

In the words of Tarr, who co-chairs the Merrimack River Beach Alliance, homeowners must "push the envelope" to protect their homes.

That they are doing. They have taken upon themselves to place tons of rock along the high tide mark.

Now they are suggesting bringing heavy machinery onto the beach to mine and transport the sand to "replenish" the dunes.

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