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Delray Beach homeowner puts up seawall to protect his property -- city makes him take it down

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Posted at 4:44 PM, Jul 16, 2019

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — The issue of flooding in Delray Beach isn’t new.

City officials have taken on multiple projects to tackle the impact to residents, businesses, and public areas. But over the last few months, one homeowner took matters into his own hands to get the attention of officials.

For three decades, Clair Johnson said his slice of paradise includes a great view and a constant flood risk along Delray Beach’s Marine Way.

"For 31 years it has flooded at every high tide, four months out of the year, four days in a row every month," said Johnson.

After his wife’s death in February, Johnson decided to spend his time building a seawall about 3 to 4 feet high. He even got a Consent to Easement Agreement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dated July 10 for a wall built with about a thousand sandbags. But he still needed a city permit that he didn’t have.

Even still, Johnson began building his wall in April, a wall that took months to build and just a few hours to tear down on Tuesday.

"I just went into tears. How should I feel?" said Johnson.

According to the city, the location where the wall was built is owned by the city.

"This is city land and therefore the city is responsible for maintaining the safety of all residents that come in contact with that area," said Gina Carter, Public Information Officer for Delray Beach. "As well as ensuring that the area is being used as its intended."

Carter said the city is designing a new seawall system along Marine Way between Atlantic Ave. and the city marina to protect property from tidal flooding. There is also a stormwater pumping station in development to provide protection from rising water tables and flooding.

"Effective and legal and for the entire area, not just for one home," Carter said.

But Johnson said it’s a story he and his neighbors have heard for too long.

"All I’m trying to do is protect my house from flooding," Johnson said.

WPTV pressed the city on the expected date for the new seawall system and stormwater pumping station, but an official date has not be provided.