RICHMOND – When Hurricane Sandy passed by Hampton Roads in October, it took with it loads of sand, a few decks and staircases leading to homes along the Chesapeake Bay and brought properties there closer to further damage or destruction the next time a big storm comes along, Sen. Frank Wagner said today.
Had the hurricane, or one like it, hit Virginia Beach directly, the results would have been devastating, he said.
Now Virginia Beach residents living along the Chesapeake Bay are one step close to getting what they’ve asked for for years – replacement sand – after the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources this afternoon unanimously approved Wagner’s proposal (HB946) to expedite the sand replenishment process there.
The bill would require the Marine Resources Commission, the Department of Environmental Quality and the city to establish a faster procedure for approving applications for permits to dredge sand from the bay and dump it on adjacent beaches. Doing so will provide a larger protective barrier between bay-front properties and the water, Wagner said.
The expedited permit process would be similar to one already in place for the Oceanfront and will not cost the state any money, Wagner said. He said Virginia Beach has agreed to fund sand replenishment along its part of the Chesapeake Bay, which includes Chic’s Beach and the Shore Drive corridor, areas that suffer some of the worst damage from nor’easters and storms like Sandy.
A study by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science concluded that 3 million to 4 million cubic yards of sand can be safely dredged from the Chesapeake Bay and placed on its beaches, Wagner said.
The bill needs will now go to the Senate for a vote and, if passed, would still require approval in the House.
“We are now having far more damage and much more risk to the bay-front properties than ever,” Wagner told the committee. “We need to take some action.”
“Frankly,” he added, “it’s bad for business to have Virginia Beach citizens’ homes at risk of falling into the bay.”
-Kathy Adams, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot