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STORM INSURANCE: Leonardo Arms approved for retention wall

January 29, 2014
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Nearly two years after a shoreline emergency was declared due to eroding duress at the beachfront on the southern end of Estero Island, another form of protection to a property complex adjacent to the affected area is on the way.

On Tuesday, Jan. 21, the Fort Myers Beach Town Council approved a special exception with certain conditions to allow a roughly 300-foot-long upland retaining wall seaward of the 1978 Coastal Construction Control Line in the environmentally critical zoning district to be built. The wall will be buried in front of Leonardo Arms condominiums.

"I think this is a good project and much needed in that area," said Vice Mayor Joe Kosinski. "This is designed to prevent (wash outs) from happening. I imagine even in the event of a hurricane."

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To protect from any type of increased tidal flow threatening the foundation of one of the condo buildings during tropical events, Leonardo Arms applied for and received a special exception for a 300-foot-long upland retaining wall that will be buried where the sand bags sit.

Back in early 2012, Leonardo Arms association officials at 7400 Estero Blvd. reported they were concerned about recession from the erosion process caused by tropical storm waves. Gulf water migration was cited as threatening the foundation of one of the condo buildings.

After Town officials were contacted to help seek relief, Council unanimously approved a resolution to issue a Declaration of Local Shoreline Emergency from the Department of Environmental Protection. Durable sand bags were then embedded in the condo building's seawall area to act as temporary emergency protective structures from any further storm, wave or tidal activity.

That measure was only allowed temporarily. After a six-month permit, authorization to keep the sand bags in place was extended, while officials at the condominium looked into a longer-term solution. Another layer of sandbags was added during a phase II implementation.

Humiston & Moore Engineers of Naples, which was first hired for consultation reasons, began working with DEP and Town officials when the erosion problem came to light. Staff engineer Marc Damon attended the Council meeting and gave a presentation to state his client's case for an upland retaining wall.

"By 2012, there was a small inlet in front of the building, causing a lot of erosion. By that time, the shoreline had receded about 650 feet," he said.

Damon mentioned there was a recovery in the summer of 2012, but tide and current influence caused another recession.

"The erosion has been consistent over time," he said. "At one point, there was only 15 feet between the erosion and the foundation of the building. This is why we are going after the retention wall."

Damon said the sandbags would need to be removed by April 2014. He said the design for the new protection includes roughly 400 cubic yards of fill in the "plumbing area" and the wall anchored in "as close as practical to the building."

Environmental Sciences Coordinator Keith Laakkonen was the first Town official to bring the erosion problem forward. He also made a presentation to Council before the special exception was approved and stated the wall "will be completely buried and will not be visible unless an erosion event would take place."

Officials from Leonardo Arms condos are responsible for the cost for the project. The cost has not yet been determined.

"In staff's opinion, the upland retaining is the best possible option to protect the upland building, and it is an appropriate request," Laakkonen said.

Conditions include:

- 1) Within three years of construction, if the building is ever demolished due to redevelopment or acts of nature, the upland retaining wall and rip rap must be removed and the property be brought into compliance.

- 2) Within three years of construction, if the wall becomes exposed to an avulsion from a storm event, dune vegetation must be replanted if the beach naturally returns to its pre-storm profile within 12 months of the storm event. Re-planting should be from top of wall to a maximum seaward distance of 15 feet.

- 3) Within three years of construction, if the wall is ever exposed to an avulsion from a storm event and sand is lost in front of the wall, the dune must be restored by means of nourishment once the beach returns to a pre-storm profile if the wall does not become naturally buried again within 12 months of the storm event.

- 4) Daily monitoring is conducted during construction to ensure that wildlife, particularly sea turtles, beach nesting birds and shorebirds are not impacted by construction.

- 5) Dune vegetation should be planted on 12' by 12' spacing and be composed of native sea oats, dune sunflower, panic grass and railroad vine.

- 6) Dune vegetation must achieve 80 percent plant survival after six months.



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