By Tim O’Meilia
Manalapan town commissioners backed away from proposed seawall standards that would require all seawalls be able to withstand a storm as strong as Hurricane Andrew.
Prompted by the collapse of ocean seawalls when Hurricane Sandy passed off shore last year, the regulations would require that seawalls along the ocean or the Intracoastal Waterway built in 2010 or earlier be certified by a coastal engineer as able to withstand a once-in-50-years storm.
The seawalls would have to be certified within three months and then every five years. Seawalls built in 2011 or later are presumed to be sound and must be recertified every 15 years.
“You’re putting an obligation on nearly everyone in town to certify every five years,” said Ken Kaleel, representing oceanfront developer Stewart Satter. “How much is that going to cost a resident? You’re asking an engineer to certify work he did not do.”
Kaleel said town officials did not consider the ramifications and cost in developing the new rules. “If it fails (certification), what’s the cost of fixing it?” he said.
The new rules were based on those used by the town of Palm Beach and on advice from the town’s consulting engineering firm, Taylor Engineering.
“The whole reason for this is when we left it up to the residents without oversight from the town, we had no way to deal with someone who is not as diligent,” said Mayor David Cheifetz. “If one fails, it can affect others.”
Commissioner John Murphy said he would not vote for the new standards until a coastal engineer testified to the commission. Commissioner Lou DeStefano has opposed the town’s setting the standards.
The standards would require that new seawalls be at least 13.3 feet above sea level. It also sets standards for thickness, length and depth beneath the sand.
Commissioners postponed a decision until July.
In other business, commissioners:
• Agreed to pay Cielo Madera Land Trust $120,000 to settle a lawsuit over building permit fees. The town refused to refund any of $158,000 in permit fees for a planned home at 1020 S. Ocean Blvd. in 2010 because it was not allowed in town ordinances. The house was never built. The settlement reflects fees for demolition inspection and town administrative costs.
• Approved tentatively a change in building permit regulations to allow fee refunds when buildings are not constructed: 100 percent if applied for within 30 days, 70 percent within 60 days and 30 percent within 90 days. The Cielo Madera Land Trust would not have qualified for a refund because it had not been sought within three months’ time.
• Learned that replacing asbestos cement water pipes on Point Manalapan and along 1,200 feet of A1A would add $651,000 to a project already being designed. Asbestos in water is not considered a health hazard. The Mock Roos & Associates engineering firm is designing a $3 million upgrade of the town’s water lines along much of A1A and along U.S. 1 in Hypoluxo, which buys water from the town. The lines did not meet water pressure standards for firefighting.
• Refused to allow Commissioner Howard Roder to read a statement about discrepancies in police officer Wayne Shepherd’s employment record. Instead, Roder’s remarks will be attached to the minutes of the meeting.
Roder and Mayor David Cheifetz argued over the issue. “Wait, I said. Be quiet!” Cheifetz said, interrupting Roder’s reading. He said the document will be “put into the record.” “I’m going to read it,” Roder said later. “No, you’re not,” the mayor said. Ú
By Tim O’Meilia