Sandbridge homes invaded by sand dunes

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Homeowners in the Sandbridge section of Virginia Beach neighborhood said for years that sand off the dunes has run into their yards, pools and up against their homes.

The simple solution is to just remove it. But, according to state code, that’s actually against the law.

Bob Van Divender has had a beachfront home for 40 years. As he looks over his pool, he can see the nearby dune spilling past his fence and onto his deck.

“Mother Nature is constantly moving that sand west, so it’s always moving (across my yard),” Van Divender said.

If you look at his property, you’ll see the sand wave that’s run through his city-required fence. The dune is now seamlessly part of Van Divender’s back yard. Across Sandbridge, you can snapshots of this summer scene: safety fences covered, bulkheads buried and ramps overrun by sand.

So why don’t homeowners just push the sand back on the dune?

Tom Leahy, the Deputy City Manager for Virginia Beach, said that moving sand violates state law. Homeowners can neither touch the dunes, nor push sand from their yards back onto the dunes.

“They’re not allowed to take sand to the seaward side without a permit.”

According to Leahy, the permit alone costs more than the price to move the sand and could take months to get. That’s why this summer, the city has a plan to step in.

“The city council has the authority to waive the permit requirement from the Wetlands Board,” Leahy said. “Homeowners would then still have to get a permit from the city, but it would be something that would be much faster and much less costly.”

Back on Bob Van Divender’s beachfront property he waits for the change, but he also takes the slow sand trap in stride.

“If you’re gonna own a place on the beach, you better be prepared to deal with Mother Nature,” he said.

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