Shared from the 5/21/2018 Sandusky Register eEdition


State taking action

Free permits available for erosion control work


Register photo/JILLY BURNS

Strong waves cause damage Friday to Zane Maughmer’s yard. After several spring storms hit, the erosion has led to a large hole between the broken seawall and land. According to Maughmer, an ODNR representative he invited to inspect his property said that this was not a case of shoreline erosion because “it is not on the bluff.”


Register photo/JILLY BURNS

In the middle of construction, a structure to protect Zane Maughmer’s battered house along Lake Erie starts to lean with the power of Friday’s waves due to high winds.


Reacting to the danger of erosion posed from unusually high lake levels, the Office of Coastal Management began issuing free temporary permits to let homeowners along the Lake Erie shore deal with erosion emergencies.

The new Temporary Shore Structure Permits will let homeowners take action quickly, rather than having to wait months under the normal permitting process, said Scudder Mackey, chief of the Office of Coastal Management in Sandusky.

“There are people seeing a catastrophic loss on their property,” Mackey said.

Getting a temporary permit is free. Homeowners are being asked to follow up by obtaining regular Shore Structure Permits within two years of getting a temporary permit.

Tony Yankel, president of the Ohio Lakefront Group, which represents the interests of people who own property along the lake, said the state deserves credit for taking action.

Yankel said regular state permits can be expensive and take many months to win approval.

“It is my understanding that ODNR will be using a Temporary Shore Structure Permit that appears to be similar to the Army Corps of Engineers’ Nation-Wide Permits that do not require detailed engineering and are often issued in a week’s time,” Yankel said.

Lake levels are historically high, about two feet higher than the normal long-term average. They are expected to continue to go higher until at least mid-June, Mackey said. That situation, coupled with storms, is causing a great deal of erosion damage on the shoreline.

Mackey said issuing Shore Structure Permits usually takes at least three months and can take much longer.

His office searched state law and came up with the idea of temporary permits to let homeowners take action quickly while still remaining within the law. Scudder then asked the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Jim Zehringer, for permission to issue the temporary permits.

“This went all the way to the governor’s office,” Scudder said. “They agreed.”

The ODNR has put out a Frequently Asked Questions document on its website, explaining how to obtain a free temporary permit.

Temporary permits are intended for emergency erosion control construction and emergency repairs to unpermitted structures. If a homeowner has an existing Shore Structure Permit, he is already allowed to repair it without asking permission. To build a dock or do other work that has nothing to do with erosion control, you still have to get a Shore Structure Permit.

Homeowners often have to spend a considerable amount of money to protect their property from erosion.

Gerard Bertschy, who lives on Dayton Avenue in Huron, told the Register he spent “thousands of dollars” on cement blocks to protect his homestead after he moved to the area in 1978 to work as an executive chef at Sawmill Creek Resorts.

He eventually decided to demolish his original home and build a new one. He fortified it with a double foundation and eight-foot poured concrete walls to protect the first floor. He’s also had to spend money over the years to replace doors and windows that were blown out.

Bertschy, whose house sits within 18 feet of the water, said his concrete seawall is beginning to deteriorate.

He said ideally, he would like to put up a series of large boulders, although that is an option he can’t afford.

“It’s becoming very difficult,” he said. “If you have the money, it’s OK, but if you don’t ... like, in my case, I’m on Social Security and don’t have any subsidized income. So it’s hard to literally throw that kind of money into the lake.”

“It’s becoming very difficult. “If you have the money, it’s OK, but if you don’t ... like, in my case, I’m on Social Security and don’t have any subsidized income. So it’s hard to literally throw that kind of money into the lake.”
Gerard Bertschy, Huron resident

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