A “model” dune restoration planned at Montauk’s former East Deck Motel gained approval from the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals last Tuesday night, February 11.
The new owner of the former motel on Deforest Road, ED40 LLC, plans to truck in sand to build up its destroyed dune this spring. But before the applicant could be granted approval, a few conditions had to be agreed upon concerning the sand grade, the staging area—where the trucks would dump the sand—and the condition of the roads after the work is completed.
Last week, Alex Walter, the board’s chairman, said the project could be used as a model for future beach replenishment projects.
“It is the perfect project for Montauk and any actual beach restoration,” he said. “It’s what the people in a beach community want. Its enterprise work with the town is something positive to put money into to make a better beach.”
According to Tyler Borsack, the environmental technician for the town’s Planning Department, the town has received more than 20 expedited Natural Resource Special Permit applications in the months and year following Superstorm Sandy for dune and bluff nourishment, similar to the ED40 application. Most were for individual residences on smaller scales.
To transport the sand to the former East Deck Motel’s dune, approximately 17 trucks each day for 10 days will roll down Ditch Plains and Deforest roads, according to Billy Mack of First Coastal Corp., the environmental consulting firm from Westhampton Beach that ED40 hired to replenish its beach. Approximately 6,000 cubic yards of sand would be dumped to form a new bluff crest. The sand is slated to be delivered no later than March 13, and the project should be completed by April 18, including the replanting of beach grass on the dune.
Some Montauk residents and board members expressed concern about the sand to be used to rebuild the dune at a public hearing on February 4. They said the sand the town hauled in last year to Ditch Plain Beach last summer didn’t match the sand color that was already there.
“The town brought in sand to Ditch Plain—it was awful sand, like dirt,” ZBA member Bryan Gosman said last week. “It’s like you’d have dirt and dust on your feet. It’s an important thing to consider.”
Beach-compatible sand matches or is similar in grain size, mineral composition and to a lesser extent color, to what is already on the beach, according to Mr. Borsack.
Kim Shaw, the town’s director of natural resources, said the 4,000 cubic yards of sand that was trucked in last year to Ditch Plains met Department of Environmental Conservation grain size requirements, but there was an issue with the coloration of the sand. For example, it may have been taken from a quarry vs. obtained from an ocean or pond excavation.
With that in mind, First Coastal said the sand will be of the same grade and would come from Mecox Bay or other inland bays or ponds. The town’s Natural Resources Department will provide further insurance by doing weekly spot checks of the sand while it’s being hauled in to make sure it is appropriate beach compatible sand.
Further, ED40 will work with Highway Superintendent Steve Lynch to make sure any damage the trucks do to Ditch Plains and Deforest roads is repaired under his supervision, and will restrict First Coastal to using the property only for beach access in order to decrease the impact on the community.
The plan with these conditions was unanimously approved by the ZBA.
“I agree with the project,” said ZBA member Don Cirillo. “It makes a lot of sense. The applicant has a hotel business in danger and wants to preserve it on his own property.”