A controversial multi-million dollar proposal by the Village of Quogue to dredge sand from the ocean bottom and place it along the entire 2.7-mile length of the village’s oceanfront will be up for public hearing next Monday evening.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has arranged the public hearing, which will be held in the Quogue Village Hall on Aug. 10 at 6 p.m. A state-appointed judge is slated to preside.
The village has asked the DEC to approve its plans to use either hydraulic cutterhead or hopper dredge equipment to excavate a 100-acre area of ocean bottom several thousand feet off the Quogue oceanfront, placing 1.1 million cubic yards of sand along the village’s oceanfront. The project is slated to cost nearly $15 million, to be paid for through increased property taxes for village residents.
According to the DEC permit, the excavation will lower the height of the ocean bed by about seven feet, and the fill will be placed along three distinct sections of oceanfront, known as “reaches.”
At the westernmost edge of the village, in Reach 1, Quogue plans to create a 7-foot high berm 80 feet wide along a 3,685-foot-long section of beach. In the center of Quogue, in Reach 2, the berm is slated to be seven feet high but just 50 feet wide along a 5,364-foot section of beach. At the easternmost edge of the village, in Reach 3, the berm is slated to be seven feet high and 127 feet wide over a 5,276-foot section of beach.
The easternmost section, which will contain the bulk of the dredged sand, would serve as a “feeder” beach, providing sand for the western beaches as the littoral drift carries the sand westward along the shore.
The DEC has already determined the project to be a “Type I” action according to the State Environmental Quality Review Act, meaning it will not have a significant impact on the environment.
In a February 2014 letter to consultant Aram Terchunian of First Coastal Corporation, which is preparing the village’s permit applications, DEC Deputy Regional Permit Administrator George W. Hammarth noted that “the problematic erosion area is a small fraction of Quogue’s overall ocean frontage. This erosion should be addressed with a solution centered on the problem area, not the full 2.7 miles of ocean shoreline.”
Mr. Hammarth also recommended the village prepare a detailed, public cost-benefit analysis for the project and that oceanfront homeowners who feel threatened by erosion should move their homes landward.
He added that the Southampton Town Trustees have notified the DEC that they will also need to weigh in on the project and the trustee board have “expressed concern that the village has not consulted or otherwise contacted it to discuss issues of concern and application requirements for the project.”
Earlier this year, Concerned Citizens of Quogue, a group formed to fight the dredging project, asked Dr. Robert S. Young, Director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, to prepare a report on the village’s plans.
“Who will benefit and who should pay?” Dr. Young asked in his report. “The fact that these questions do not seem to find universal agreement within the Village of Quogue is a reflection of the fact that not everyone along the beach is currently in need of protection. In my opinion, it also stems from the fact that over the last decade or so, many at the coast have increased their own personal exposure to hazards through risky expansion of their oceanfront properties, building closer to the ocean, and extending protective structure seaward onto the active beach.”
The public is welcome to submit comments in writing, which must be received by Aug. 10, to the following address:
George W Hammarth
NYSDEC Region 1 Headquarters
SUNY @ Stony Brook
50 Circle Rd
Stony Brook, NY 11790