Appeal in Erosion Complaint


An appeal has been filed for a Sagaponack erosion case by attorney Gary Ireland who is arguing that groins put in place in East Hampton are the cause of erosion of beaches to the west and is asking the county take responsibility for damage from erosion and removal of the groins.

Ireland, who is representing his mother Cynthia Ireland, filed the appeal in late September because he believes the implementation of groins in the Georgica area of East Hampton have caused his mother to move her house back twice due to beach erosion. The county also filed its own cross-appeal to the decision earlier this month.

The original decision was made on August 27 issued by U.S. Eastern District Court Judge Brian M. Cogan. His decision said that the county would not be responsible to pay for damage incurred by the Sagaponack homeowners or the removal of the groins. Further, this decision would not require the county to replenish beaches due to erosion said to be caused by the Georgica groins.

Ireland said that there is substantial evidence in his favor and that is why he filed an appeal.

“We have support from various environmental organizations to support our claim,” said Ireland. “We respectfully disagree with the judge.”

Ireland said the court ruling was based on the fact that erosion is a natural occurrence. But Ireland along with some experts, believe the groins have sped up this process. Bob DeLuca, President of Group for the East End, testified during the trial and said that he has been involved in coastal planning on the East End for 16 to 18 years and has seen a lot of erosion in the area west of the groins.

“The area to the east of the groins is stable, and that was the point of putting them there by the Army Corp of Engineers in the 1960s,” he said on Tuesday. 

Kevin McAllister of the Peconic Baykeeper, also argues that the groins have caused the erosion to happen at a faster rate. He said that the currents and winds move the sand from east to west and the jetties interfere with that movement.

During the trial, which was held last April, geologist and engineer, Dr. David Aubrey said that he believes the sand flows in both directions.

On Tuesday, Sagaponack Mayor Donald Louchheim said, “I think there is ample evidence that the Georgica groins have contributed to beach erosion in neighboring Sagaponack. I would like to see appeal and the groins removed.”