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Islanders to help pay for sand

By STEVE REILLY

STAFF WRITER

ENGLEWOOD — Charlotte County commissioners approved new taxing units Thursday to ensure Gulf beaches stay sandy.

“We need to get this program going,” said Damian Ochab, president of the South Manasota/Sandpiper Key Association.

“The fact remains, the sand is not coming back!” Ochab wrote Friday in an email to the Sun. “I have talked with many experts on this subject and the beach will not replenish itself.”

The Manasota Key taxing unit affects all properties west of the Tom Adams Bridge and from the Sarasota-Charlotte county line to the Stump Pass State Park at the south tip of Manasota Key. A similar taxing unit on Knight/Don Pedro islands extends from Stump Pass south to the Don Pedro Island State Park.

All property owners within the taxing units will pay a “recreational benefit” assessment, which is $341.77 on Manasota Key and $220.77 on Knight and Don Pedro islands.

Those who live on or in close proximity to Gulf shorelines — in a “near beach zone” — pay additional assessments. On Manasota Key, the zone includes all properties west of North Beach Road and Gulf Boulevard.

The near beach zone assessments, which apply to both taxing units, are calculated on a point system. One point equates to $55.85 on Manasota Key and $23.30 on Knight and Don Pedro islands. Lot size and frontage on the Gulf determine the number of points a property will be assessed.

The association worked closely with county officials and consultants on assessments that would be palatable to most property owners.

“It was very apparent that this project needed to get done and the funding needed to be shared fairly across the state, county and residents,” he said. “It has been an arduous process.”

Islanders will pay into the taxing unit for eight years to help pay for a $28 million beach nourishment and management project.

Charlotte County is contributing $2 million to the project. The county anticipates the state will pick up 39 percent of the remaining costs for the project.

The added benefit with the establishment of a managed beach project is that the county can apply for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to replace sand eroded in the wake of severe storms.

The county intends to begin the permitting process for the project in 2019 and start placing sand on the shorelines by 2020.

More information about the “Manasota Key North Beach Erosion Project” can be found on the county’s website at www.charlottecountyfl.gov under “Project Status.”

Email: reilly@sun-herald.com

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