ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. — Signs along St. Augustine Beach state dunes can’t even be walked on, which is why many residents are confused as to how the Department of Environmental Protection allowed them to be excavated.
First Coast News obtained the homeowner's application for the permit issued by the DEP.
Within the application, Kevin Partel, the project’s consultant, wrote the homeowners have had a constant issue with sand and windblown material after the wind blew migratory sands landward. He wrote these "unusual circumstances" altered the sand migration process, such as an elongated beach, and surrounding homes have a more seaward line of construction.
Partel wrote the homeowners wanted to create a more natural shape to the dune to stabilize the sand.
“The applicant’s agent definitely went through a very thorough and lengthy process,” said Jane West, and environmental protection attorney. “He dotted ''I's,' crossed 'T’s.'”
West and many neighbors believe there may be a different motivating factor.
“The dune is being dropped down from 22.6 feet to 16 feet to have a better ocean view,” West said. “That’s not a justifiable reason.”
West added this is not the first time the property owner has attempted to excavate the property.
In 2017, the property owners were investigated by police and the DEP for excavating without a permit. No charges were filed as the homeowners restored the dune.
The dunes are heavily protected and have been established through a $15 million beach renourishment plan, paid for with federal, state and local taxpayer dollars.
First Coast News reached out to Partel and the homeowners for more information on the project and have yet to receive a response.