More Litigation Over Sconset Bluff Geotubes

An island man has filed a civil lawsuit in Nantucket Superior Court against the Sconset Beach Preservation Fund (SBPF) and the Nantucket Conservation Commission over the erosion-control geotube installation at the Sconset Bluff and the commission’s controversial decision to order it removed.

Citing the SBPF’s failure to supply the amount of sand mitigation specified in its permit, Hoicks Hollow Road resident Robert Greenhill filed the complaint last week and claimed his property has seen accelerated erosion as a result.

Greenhill’s lawsuit faults the Conservation Commission for not requiring the SBPF to make up the sand deficit – estimated to be 64,765 cubic yards – in its enforcement order. It requests that the court amend the order to force the SBPF to comply with the sand mitigation requirement, but also uphold the order for removal.

“The negative effects from the deficit in sand mitigation in violation of the OOC (order of conditions) are readily observable from the Greenhill property, including accelerated erosion rates along the shoreline since the geotubes were installed, and especially since Defendant SBPF stopped placing the required mitigation sand on the beach,” the complaint states.

Josh Posner, SBPF president, has previously stated that while his organization did agree to the level of sand mitigation specific in the permit, it is an excessive amount that goes beyond what is necessary to supply the neighboring beaches with sand.

“We are currently reviewing the suit,” Posner said. “SBPF has been consistent and clear on two things: that the amount of sand covering the geotubes has always been sufficient to assure that no harm  done to Sconset Beach or neighboring beaches, as is regularly confirmed by the Woods Hole Group surveys. In addition, we are committed to meet the ongoing obligation regarding sand replenishment going forward assuming we come to an agreement on a new sustainable project in the near future.”

The 900-foot sand-filled geotube has been installed at the bottom of the bluff on the east end of Nantucket for nearly eight years. But the Conservation Commission determined in June that the SBPF had failed to comply with its permit for the project, specifically the requirement for a certain amount of sand that should have been dumped annually over the geotube to replenish the area, and issued an enforcement order earlier this month requiring the erosion control installation to be removed. Opponents believe the geotube installation has exacerbated erosion at beaches north and south of the projects.

The SBPF’s recently appealed the Conservation Commission’s enforcement order to remove the existing geotubes, a matter which remains pending in Nantucket Superior Court.

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