VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A legal battle is underway as the City of Virginia Beach filed a lawsuit against some residents in the Chic’s Beach area over beach restoration.
Beach erosion from storms and hurricanes over the years has eaten away the land and moved the beach inward.
The city began to make its case Tuesday before Circuit Judge H. Thomas Padrick. The city needs a judgment that Chic’s Beach is essentially a public beach before it can move forward with beach replenishment.
Through testimony and evidence, Deputy City Attorney Christopher Boynton tried to show that the public has used the beach and the city has maintained it for at least 80 years.
City engineer Philip Roehrs, an expert on coastal engineering, says the erosion along Chic’s Beach is both chronic and critical. He says it threatens several private homes, especially after storms such as Sandy, Isabel, Irene and several nor’easters.
A former city maintenance supervisor testified by video about how his crews picked up trash, debris and dead sea-life for several years. Two former police supervisors talked about how their officers patrolled the beach and handled cases for fireworks, public drinking and lost children.
Sarah Howk, a long time resident of Lauderdale Avenue, described how recent nor’easters took a chunk of the beach each time. She said hurricane Sandy “really nailed us bad.”
The City Attorney’s office says that all but a few residents are on board with the restoration work, but there are still some who are holding out. The City Attorney’s office says one of the residents holding out, who claims to represent several other land owners, has demanded more than $1 million to give the city access.
Some residents own land that is underwater or buried by sand. Several of the lots are entirely submerged even at low tide.
Court documents reveal that the city says it has cleaned, graded and patrolled from this stretch of land for decades, so it should have the right to replenish the land.
If the judge rules in the city’s favor, the next steps would be permitting and funding.
The restoration work likely wouldn’t begin until the second half of 2017 at the earliest.