The Palm Beach Countywide Coastal Council unanimously supported an initiative to act as a unified body to demand regulatory reform for coastal projects at a meeting held on November 21, 2008. All of our coastal communities are impacted by the hurdles and extensive timelines presented by state and federal agencies; therefore, it is imperative that we share the common goal to change these regulatory mandates through legislative channels.
We represent a broad cross section of communities that share a need to protect our residents and coastal properties from harm. The erosion on our shoreline poses a critical and worsening threat at a time when the state and federal regulatory climate becomes more and more hostile to coastal protection projects. It requires more time and more money to obtain limited approvals for permits, which are then scrutinized by special interest groups. We need a more balanced strategy between the environmental interests and a regional beach management plan. Certainly, the requirements for beach renourishment should include regional mitigation, monitoring and funding procedures for our contiguous coastline.
The only way we can have an impact in Tallahassee or in Washington is to stand strongly together. Florida Sen. Jeff Atwater has been active in promoting intergovernmental communication and action on this issue at a state level. U.S. Rep. Ron Klein has been actively assisting Palm Beach County and several individual municipalities in our permitting efforts in Washington. I believe we can look to Sen. Atwater and Congressman Klein for leadership on this issue. Additionally, Palm Beach County Commissioner Addie Greene is actively engaged in bringing together local municipalities to advance legislative support.
A report authorized by the state will be presented in January, addressing the effectiveness of statewide beach management programs and possible changes to state statutes to enhance efficiency. This offers a unique opportunity to determine an action plan that can be promoted at the 2009 state legislative session.
It is my hope that our communities come together quickly to re-energize this council to actively pursue regulatory reform. I urge all municipalities to draft and approve a resolution that supports these initiatives and forward them to the League of Cities for its endorsement. Our next meeting will be held on Feb. 13, 2009, and I look forward to readers' suggestions and comments. Tackling the long-term protection of our people, property and economy will be a challenge that requires the unified strength of all coastal communities.
Gail Coniglio is president pro tem of the Palm Beach Town Council and represents the Town of Palm Beach on the Palm Beach Countywide Coastal Council. She can be reached at: Gailconig1@aol.com.