Woman fined for moving sand dune on her own property

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Craigslist ad reads: “Take My Sand—Please! Do you need fill? I have tons, really, tons of beautiful beach sand. Email me.”

Norfolk resident Cat McCoy may have one of the oddest looking lots in Hampton Roads. She spent a lot of money on the waterfront property at 2040 East Ocean View, with hopes of building a home there. Unfortunately, a 22-foot sand dune and an ongoing dispute with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission Wetlands Board are keeping her from developing the lot.

“Some of it we can bring back to make a level area to build something,” McCoy said. “So, I have to put the house in line with the others here, and if I do that, all this sand is going to come in on top of me.”

The board told her she can truck away the sand, no problem. McCoy says that’s too costly for her, as an individual homeowner and not a builder. She said she just doesn’t have the resources to remove the dune.

She was also told she could build on pilings, but McCoy says there are two problems with that plan. “The cost is exorbitant to drive those pilings for the kind of stability that you need in the sand this high up, and it would be unfair to the neighbors … it may damage their property,” she said.

What she apparently can’t do, is what McCoy already did — push the sand towards the water.

The sand dune and sea grass sit on McCoy’s property, and she got a sand dune permit that specifies the grading work she is allowed to do. She says she followed the allowances of the permit, but the VMRC Wetlands Board disagrees and gave her a citation for sand dune violation.

The citation states, “grading work was conducted outside of the permitted area of your existing sand dune permit.”

10 On Your Side asked McCoy about that. She replied, “I don’t think we did that. They are wrong — the permit says I can grade down to the property line, east and west, which is what we did.”

The citation also said, “Our investigation indicates that activities on/or beyond your property have altered a coastal primary sand dune.”

McCoy said, “he pushed the sand in here and filled this in. The real concern at the wetlands hearing seemed to be about covering up grass.”

This is where the dispute got expensive for McCoy — in moving some of the sand, she covered up dune grasses. She planted dune grass and sea oats in the area before her hearing, but it was too late. The city says she has to pay a $3,500 fine.

“The city is being unreasonable. They are not being fair. We did not violate a permit, even though they think we did,” McCoy said.

The whole situation is keeping her from the plans she had for the property, but also from selling it. So, McCoy is seeking legal action to settle it.

In the meantime, if you would like free sand, McCoy says you can take as much of it as you want from her property at 2040 East Ocean View Avenue. It’s Free!

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