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Ocean Ridge debates who gets beach access

Some residents claim town moved forward without any input from community
Posted at 8:49 AM, Dec 07, 2020

OCEAN RIDGE, Fla. — Tensions are rising in Ocean Ridge over a new resident funded sea wall construction project that will limit beach access in town.

Some residents claim town commissioners green-lighted the project without any input from the community. A petition has been started calling for the project to be placed on hold.

"The problem is the town had no transparency in the process. We only learned about this about 48 hours ago," Ocean Ridge resident John Kramer said. "We don't know exactly what's going to happen, how long it's going to take and what's going to replace what we consider now a very beautiful natural access for over the 100 families. That's our concern."

Others are also concerned about the project's logistics and impact on the environment.

"Not to mention all the vegetation that's going to be destroyed and they say that they are going to replicate it at the end of the project, but I just cannot see that happening," resident Lisa Ritota said.

In February, town leaders declared a state of emergency to help homeowners living on the oceanside build their own sea wall and protect their properties from collapsing.

"Last November, all the staircases were torn down from the storm," John McCormack said.

McCormack is a resident who supports the new project.

"It has to be protected from being breached," he said.

As a result of the construction and for safety, the town is shutting down two crossovers through the end of March. It's a move some claim they didn't see coming.

Town Manager Tracey Stevens said in a statement that notice was given at the Nov. 2 commission meeting. She said a second was issued Dec. 1 once the date was confirmed by a contractor.

Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the project at 6 p.m. Monday.

Because of turtle nesting season and strict guidelines from the Department of Environmental Protection, the project has a strict deadline. Turtle nesting season returns March 1.

"Unfortunately, yes, everybody is going to be a little up upset about this, but there's no other options," McCormack said. "You can't do this during turtle nesting season."