From: Pete Winterberger
Over recent months it has become clear what direction the PLCA Board will take regarding the Beach restoration project. Their mission has not changed; that is, provide the best beach possible for the residents of Pelican Landing, the Hyatt Guests and Time Share Owners. Unfortunately, achievement of this goal may not come without the PLCA and its partners possibly assuming certain risks and liabilities. What concerns some residents is the uncertainty of what the risks and liabilities may be. One thing is sure, the decision to financially commit thousands of Pelican Landing residents to this project will be made by four elected PLCA Board members and one WCI appointed Board member.
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To explain the anxiety of many residents we should examine what we know and what we still must determine in order to understand where we presently stand and define what our obligations may be in the future.
Based on review of PLCA Board meetings we know the following:
- The beach project will proceed ASAP once the permits are issued unless the terms of the permits are too onerous for the PLCA Board to accept.
- The character and look of the beach will change permanently with the addition of numerous cement groins extending out into the Gulf of Mexico.
- PLCA lost an avulsion claim made to the State and consequently when/if we re-nourish, we will lose any of the accretion rights we previously had. The creation of new beach through re-nourishment and any subsequent accretion will be State owned Public Land. Translation: no land mass created beyond the established erosion control line will belong to Pelican Landing. Definitions: Avulsion is a sudden change such as severe erosion during a hurricane. (Because our beach erosion occurred over a number of months/years, the state of Florida denied our avulsion claim.) Accretion is a gradually increase by natural growth.
- If we do not pursue the project, we retain our accretion rights and retain all private land rights that we presently have. (whereby any beach that rebuilds and returns naturally becomes the property of Pelican Landing.
- There will be communication with the residents concerning the project and the Board will accept input from the residents but there will be no community wide vote to pursue the project. Board members only will decide to proceed with re-nourishment.
- Based on the terms of the settlement agreement, the Hyatt and Time share owners will pay approximately 1/2 of all costs associated with the project as long as they send guest to the beach. There will be no additional agreements between the responsible parties as per statements by PLCA Board Members, who believe the terms of the Settlement Agreement cover everything.
- The beach project is headed up by the WCI appointed Board Member and not by one of our elected resident Board members.
Open issues causing concern are:
- The terms of the permit are still unknown:
- Will the State require us to allow the Public use of our facilities?
- Will the DEP mandate us to assume financial liability for any damage to surrounding property that may occur due to implementation of our project?
- Will we be required to monitor the area and continue re-nourishment of the beach on an ongoing basis?
- Will the Hyatt (or future hotel operator) pay 1/2 of all ongoing liabilities and expenses should they occur outside of the basic project or will there be litigation?
- Once the permit is issued, will the community have enough time to review the communication from the Board and provide feedback to the Board before the State demands acceptance of the terms of the permit?
- What will be the final cost of the project including any long-term obligations?
- How will major storms impact this project both short and long term?
What happens if the Hyatt, Time Share Owners or the PLCA stops taking members to the beach? Historically it has been about 50% Hyatt / Time Share members and 50% PLCA members.
What happens if on a yearly basis the number is 90% / 10%, will the Hyatt pay 90%. If the number is 10% / 90% will PLCA pay 90%? The terms of the Settlement Agreement state that the costs shall be shared based on the percent of guests each entity sends to the beach on a yearly basis.
What if any party decides not to send anyone to the beach during a given year, does that party pay nothing?
It all boils down to trust.
Do the residents of the community trust our four elected Board Members and the one WCI Board representative to make the right decisions for all of us while relying solely on consultants and individuals with financial vested interests in beach re-nourishment?
Has each and every Board Member personally studied the complexities of this project and made themselves fully aware of all the consequences intended or unintended that may result from implementation of the beach project?
Has every Board member done their best to educate themselves and can each say they fully understand the risks involved with this project?
If so, then, based on the administrative structure of this community we must trust their judgment to make the best decision for the entire community.